MLS may well regret selecting Baltimore as the site of the 2005 Superdraft, as Charm City's proximity to United's glorious fan-base surely has changed draft day etiquette forever. MLS drafts have always had the odd cheer or heckle, but nothing to rival the sheer volume that United fans brought to Baltimore's convention center. Surely, the ante will be raised at future drafts as every fan club futilely seeks to emulate the irrepressible enthusiasm of DC's fan clubs. Imagine if the great unwashed from the Evil Empire came down from NY with their vapid assortment of pimply punks to next year's draft in Philadelphia. The results could be horrifying.
Still, United's glorious supporters certainly made this draft day something to be remembered long after Nikolas Basagno has been forgotten. Members of the Screaming Eagles, Barra Brava, and La Norte brought their usual level of imagination and enthusiasm which gave everyone in attendance a taste of the passion that usually reserved for United support on game days.
For those of you that missed it, or couldn't quite make out what they were singing in the background of Fox Sports World's coverage of the draft, here are some of the many memorable moments.
There were imperious chants of "D-C U-ni-ted!!" every time they or the team was mentioned, or to drown out any pitiful cheers by the sparse support for any other club. Further support was evidenced by a rousing rendition of "We're all part of Nowak's Army" when United was on the clock to make their pick.
They also chanted "Van Sicklen, Van Sicklen" for surely the first time ever in that poor guy's life. They made it sound like he was the player they were expecting all along, when it was far more likely that his identity was about as well known to them as Greg Lalas' was before he started writing for MLSnet. Young Van Sicklen was quoted as being thrilled when he heard them chant his name, well he better file away that memory as they'll turn on him quicker than you can say Chris Albright if he doesn't pan out on the field.
They also provided some deliciously lovely heckling as the situations presented themselves. Any timeout called by a club on the clock was greeted with overwhelming boos. And they didn't stop at catcalls when it came to individuals that have singled themselves out for special attention by their ignoble lifework. For example, immediately after Steve Sampson called timeout a devilishly classic chant of "3-6-1, 3-6-1!!" rang out across the auditorium.
And in a delightfully ironic twist, they both identified and then mercilessly booed a newly acquired Metrostar. Chris Corcoran didn't expect to be drafted, so he didn't accept his invitation to sit with the player gallery. Apparently at the last minute, he decided to come to the draft anyway and ended up sitting in the crowd, so that when the Metros drafted him, he didn't get to go up to the podium. However, when he got a call about being drafted on his cell phone, it became obvious he was in the auditorium due to the noise the United fans were making.
Once identified, young Corcoran went down to be interviewed by the Fox announcers where he was subjected to a taste of what he can expect every time the Metros play DC. He was booed, heckled, and endured a chant of "MPF, MPF!", which is the hapless slogan coined by the inept Metro front office which is supposed to mean Metro Playoff Fever, but which has been gleefully turned into "Metro Playoff Failure!" by United fans.
The raucous support by the fans was nearly universally enjoyed by everyone however. Sean Wheelock and Allen Hopkins worked the crowd every chance they got and laughed at the clever cheers and heckling. Although, they may temper that later once they realize they made some mistakes on air that were pounced on cleverly by well informed masses. Commissioner Garber also saluted the crowd every time he got up to speak, but that may well be in homage to his being a dues paying member of the Screaming Eagles as well as his chagrined admiration.
Even the players themselves came over to salute the fans. Jamie Watson was drafted by Real Salt Lake, but he came over after the draft to laugh with the United fans. He even got in to the act by calling his teammate at North Carolina Tim Merritt, so that he could hear the United fans chant his name into the phone. DC had picked Merritt with the very last pick in the whole draft, and hopefully this year's Mr. Irrelevant goes on to be a better player than Jeff Parke last year so he gets to hear them chant his name in RFK.
All in all, it was a glorious performance and Van Sicklen and Merritt have quite a bit of work to do in order to make this draft remembered as the day they became part of the Black and Red, instead of the day that the Screaming Eagles and Barra Brava literally stole the show.
Look for my evaluation of the winners and losers of the Superdraft on Monday night or Tuesday.