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D.C. United fans revel in supporters section experience during first game at Audi Field

Jul 14, 2018; Washington, DC, USA; D.C. United fans celebrate a goal during the second half against the Vancouver Whitecaps at Audi Field. (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

WASHINGTON — “D.C. United! D.C. United!”

The chants are loud and clear as the day finally arrived for supporters of D.C. United.

Audi Field is finally open for business.

The Supporters Section is part of the Audi Field experience. Many eager fans of the team were in the general admission seating, which looked full come game-time. 

“It’s absolutely amazing to see the brand-new stadium, and, like the announcer just said, to realize that you’re sitting in a seat that no one else has sat in before, it’s fantastic.” said James Hoffman,  a member of the Screaming Eagles supporters group.

The section is steep. It takes quite a climb the farther up one goes, but that makes the area very imposing. Fans are almost directly standing above the players on the pitch as the game plays on the pitch. With the new soccer-specific stadium standard of having a safe-standing section, Audi Field’s section does the job that Orlando City and Los Angeles FC first implemented in their homes.

Jul 14, 2018; Washington, DC, USA; Fans in the crowd stand the D.C. United match against the Vancouver Whitecaps in the inaugural game played at Audi Field. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

The view of the pitch made it seem as if the fans were on it. It’s very close and provides for a great way to watch the match, even if it is technically a sideline seat. Most of the view was unobstructed, but when fans waved flags, it could briefly block the sightlines for some. But that’s what one pays for when selecting a seat in the supporters section: the atmosphere and the experience.

Flags with the logo of the Screaming Eagles populated the section as the teams walked out for the first time. After the National Anthem, a tifo was lifted, reading, “Our House,” with a picture of an eagle.

As the game kicked off, the chant of “D.C. United” came back. There was a loud cheer across the stadium while the section sang at the top of its collective lungs. After a few minutes, the fans began to quiet down and turn around, looking at the big screen to see what exactly was going on at the far side of the pitch. Any call that went the wrong way was met with loud boos. Great defensive work was cheered, and a fan in the front section encouraged D.C. United’s Frédéric Brillant in the early stages.

Jul 14, 2018; Washington, DC, USA; D.C. United forward Wayne Rooney (center) celebrates with teammates Yamil Asad (left) and Luciano Acosta (right) against the Vancouver Whitecaps at Audi Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Some of the fans in the Supporters Section are not apart of any fan group, but purchased season tickets in the section hoping to capture some of the fan atmosphere. They joined along with the chants as the crowd continued to support its team to the beat of a drum in the background.

“I think it brings back memories from my time back home,” season ticket holder Antonio Cancino said. “I’m from Chile, so I enjoy football — and the way you enjoy football is among people screaming, chanting and having a great time.”

The crowd did not sit down the entire match. Lined with bleachers, it was designed for constant chanting and cheering. Red smoke filled the air when Yamil Asad scored the first goal in Audi Field’s history. Flags waved faster and euphoric sounds permeated the air in the moment. 

“I feel like the energy coming from the section can’t be done anywhere else around here.”

The stadium roared 90 minutes later, when DCU snapped its five-game winless streak in a sold-out stadium debut. Paul Arriola, who grabbed a brace in the match, was met with plenty of cheer after being announced as the player of the match. 

The section was imposing when the fans warmed up and got loud. It’s finally a home for D.C’s fans, one they’ve longed for.

“The way you see the flags flying right behind the goal, everyone standing and cheering the whole time, we’re the 12th man,” fan Michael Crum said. “We gotta push the team out there. I feel like the energy coming from the section can’t be done anywhere else around here.”

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