Soccer is a sport that is truly on the rise in the U.S. It’s one of the most played sports at the youth level and interest in the nation’s pro league, Major League Soccer (MLS), only continues to grow. The DC United, Washington DC’s MLS soccer team, offers visitors and locals a great game day experience that rivals not only other MLS teams, but other well-known sports teams in the District of Columbia (we are looking at you Caps!)
DC United was one of the original ten teams in Major League Soccer when it debuted in 1996, and the club started off with a bang, effectively replacing the Commanders (DC’s football team) in RFK Stadium, and winning four MLS Cups before 2004.
While today, the team is not as dominant as they were in the 90’s, partly due to the mass increase of MLS teams (29 teams- 26 in the U.S. and 3 in Canada), in my experience, the team still offers one of the more exciting and affordable fan experiences in Washington DC.
DC United at Audi Field
The club Audi Field in 2018, a new state-of-the-art stadium, which offers a much more intimate experience than RFK ever did. The stadium and surrounding area provide fans with all the comforts, shopping and food options one should expect in a modern stadium.
Below you can find a detailed guide to experiencing DC United soccer in the nation’s capital, from a detailed overview of the new stadium to a breakdown of the club, and the type of experience fans can have before, during, and even after the game.
History Of DC United
Major League Soccer was founded in 1996, coming off of the success of the US hosting the World Cup in 1994. DC United was one of the original ten franchises who started playing their games at former RFK Stadium, former home of the Washington Redskins (now the Commanders).
The team had one of the original top home field advantages in MLS. RFK Stadium not only sat over 45,000 people, but notable local fan groups like the Screaming Eagles, the District Ultras and Barra Brava brought an electric atmosphere which made you feel like you were in a football match in Mexico or even Europe, giving the team a morale boost in those early years, and even today.
Initial Decade of Dominance
DC United won the inaugural 1996 MLS Cup playoffs and followed up that first year of success by winning the league championship again in 1997. With a team of notable stars like Marco Etcheverry, Jaime Moreno, Roy Lassiter, and later young prodigies like Freddy Adu, DC United won 4 MLS Cup championships total by 2004.
Team Struggles and Resurgence
After DC United’s last championship in 2004, the club experienced a downturn as many of the star players who built the team in the beginning began to age and see their influence wane.
DC United saw a barren run of no playoff appearances for five years after the 2007 season.
2014 was a historic year due to a sale that brought the club’s ownership to Jason Levien in 2012. The new ownership were able to help institute some new changes that saw the club reverse their fortunes and go from worst (only 3 wins in 2013) to first place during the 2014 regular season.
Levien also prepared plans for a new stadium that would bring numerous new businesses to the area near the stadium in the city’s Navy Yard neighborhood.
DC United remained competitive from 2015 until they left RFK in 2017.
Audi Field Era
DC United opened Audi Field, a smaller field that holds half of what the team was accustomed to (20,000 seats).
In the three years since the opening of the stadium, DC United have not seen another MLS cup, but there were still some successes. World soccer stars like Wayne Rooney joined DC United early on into their stay at Audi Field, which got fans excited.
Rooney later returned to England to coach, but left the club invested in some top Latin American talent that lead to them being a contender again in the MLS Cup playoffs.
Audi Field also hosts other events when soccer isn’t being played. The stadium served as the home stadium for the XFL’s DC Defenders during their 2019 season. Additionally, the stadium holds some concerts as well as various international soccer friendlies and World Cup Qualifiers.
DC United Wins as of 1996-2023
- 4 MLS Cups (league championships)
- 4 Supporters Shields (league regular season)
- 3 U.S. Open Cups (domestic cups)
- 6 Eastern Conference championships
How To Buy DC United Tickets
If you want to attend a DC United game, there are a plenty of options for fans no matter your budget. You can score last minute ticket deals, as well as discounts well ahead of the game.
Fans can snag tickets from the team’s official site, or use a site like Seat Geek and StubHub to find seats that might not be available on the team’s site.
Prices for DC United Tickets
Tickets can range in price depending on when and who they are playing. You can grab more affordable tickets for around $30 on weeknights, but sometimes ticket prices can sore into the high hundreds. Again, it all depends on who is playing.
Group Ticket Sales
If you have interest in going with a group to a specific game, special rates can potentially be available if you contact the DC United ticket office well ahead of time.
If you are looking to set up a suite or corporate membership where your group plans to return a few times a year, the club will generally work with you if you talk to them directly.
How To Get Free DC United Tickets
With Audi Field seating only 20,000 fans, free tickets can be rare, but your best bet is to join the DC United supporter’s club, the Screaming Eagles, where they sometimes give away tickets, or at the very least, they can provide consistent tickets for you in the supporters section for around $25 dollars to pretty much every match.
REMINDER: prices are subject to change. Always triple check ticket prices and seats.
How To Get To Audi Field
Audi Field is in Southeast DC, less than a mile from Nationals Park, in the Navy Yard neighborhood. It is easy to take the Metro (metro stop: Navy Yard), bike, drive or even take the riverboat to the field.
Metro To Audi Field
You can get to Audi Field via metro stops at Navy Yard-Ballpark and Waterfront. Both stations are only serviced by the Green Line. If you start from another part of town on a different line, the closest stations where you can transfer to the Green Line from other notable lines is L’Enfant Plaza.
Read our full guide on how to ride the DC Metro
After arriving at the Navy Yard metro station, you will be close to the National’s stadium, but in order to make the walk to Audi Field as fast as possible, be sure to exit from the West Exit at M Street SE and Half Street SE.
From this exit, take N St SE towards South Capitol Street Southeast and then turn right onto Potomac Ave SE. From there you should see the crowd heading to the stadium as well as the actual stadium.
Just be careful who you follow, as there can be some cross traffic when there is both a Nationals game and a DC United soccer match.
Driving To Audi Field/Parking Tips
Audi Field is a bit more isolated than National’s Park, so if you are driving to the game there are certainly a few things to keep in mind.
Pedestrian traffic from the metro can cause streets to be blocked off right in front of the stadium. You can find street parking farther away from the stadium if you don’t mind a little walk in (we like to park at the Safeway in the neighborhood, as there are no “shopping” restrictions, but it is a farther walk).
There are also parking lots attached to the National’s Park on First St SE & N St SW, and N ST NW & S Capitol St SW. Again, check to see if there are any Nationals games before you plan to park in these lots, as they will most likely be maxed out before you even show up.
Also, if you are a fan of biking or using scooters, Audi Field provides a 400-space bike room for fans who arrive on two wheels to the stadium. You will still want to lock up your bike or scooter, but its great to know those who are eco-friendly are rewarded.
Things to Know About Audi Field Seating
Obviously, you get the best views in the lower level, but you also pay for that privilege. Given the size of Audi Field though, there are really no bad seats. If you can get center seats on either side of the field, you will be good to go (although may get tennis whiplash if the match is particularly thrilling).
If you have the funds, book a club level seat for special service, drinks ordered from your seat, and a few more gourmet food options.
The 200 level seats are only located on the sidelines, but due to the relative small size of the stadium, you do not feel like you are in the nosebleed section and you feel like you are right on top of the action.
The goal line experience at Audi Field is where you will find the diehard fans. DC United’s supporters group, the Screaming Eagles, are located behind the goal line in bleacher seats and tend to stand and sing the entire time.
Tickets with the Screaming Eagles can be cheaper, but you are expected to stand, chant and participate with the group the entire game.
One the other side, behind the opposing team’s goal line, you will have more “normal seats,” but you may also be right next to the supporters club from the opposing team.
So, if you do not mind being near the singing of the opposing team’s ultra-fans, the other goal line can be a decent cheap alternative as well.
Audi Field offers 31 luxury suites and two VIP club lounges. The menu was curated by DC favorite and Michelin-starred chef José Andrés and culinary partner Levy.
Many of the suites are already booked by various corporations who purchase the suites for the entire season. If you have an interest in using a suite, you will need to speak to DC United well ahead of the next season about a long-term commitment.
Every so often, companies will offer use of their suite for certain games to groups who may sublet their suite, but this is pretty rare.
The suite experience is fantastic though, as suite owners get privately catered food they can order beforehand, plus an open bar and never ending non-alcoholic beverages.
Audi Field Food Not To Miss
Audi Field is filled with delicious food that shows off the amazing food scene and restaurants in DC. While it might be hard to narrow down exactly what you want when watching a soccer match, we have some great options to get you started.
Fan Favorite Foods
- El Salvadoran Pupusas
- Beef Bulgogi Bowl
- Smoked Mambo Wings
- Buffalo Cauliflower Wrap
DC United Concessions
- Butter & Salt
- Maria’s Pupuseria
- Citizen Smoke
- Upper 90 Pizza
- Sweet Carousel
- The Bowl Line
- Marra Forni Pizza
- District Dog
- Peruvian Brothers
- La Tingeria
- Roaming Rooster
- Southwest Landing
- 135 Steak Department
- Upper 90 Pizza
- Black and Red Grill
Alcohol in Audi Field DC
Additionally, for fans seeking a different vibe, there is a Heineken Hall near the supporters seats in the end zone where fans can watch the game from more of a bar atmosphere.
More spots to grab a beer or cocktail at a DC United game
- Capital Cocktails
- United Tapworks
- 134 Capital Cocktails: Assorted Cocktails
- 136 United Tapworks Beer Wall
Vegan Options at Audi Field
There isn’t much, but you best bet is to stick to Arepa Zone, where they serve yuca fritters and taquenos.
Gluten-free options at Audi Field
Arepa Zone offers gluten-free beef, chicken, and pork arepas, plus yuca fries, while Butter & Salt serves up popcorn (which is naturally gluten free, but triple check to make sure there are no weird toppings with gluten added)
Pre And Post-Game Food Options
Since Audi is a bit more isolated, some of the best pre and post game food options are the ones closest to Nationals Park and in Yards Park.
Mission Navy Yard
Mission is a local DC Mexican chain with a few locations across the District, but the location at the Navy Yard has multi-floors and caters to large groups who want to hang out before or after the game. You can also watch other games from across the nation airing on the TVs.
There are quite a few good options along the Anacostia River, but if you are looking for a nice beer garden vibe that is great for groups and has tons of beer options, then Dacha is the place for you.
If you love Middle Eastern food, and we really do, you will want to make the trek over to Albi, a few blocks east near The Yards Park. Not only is the pita hot out of the oven when it is served to you, but the restaurant racked up a Michelin star in May 2022, just two years after it opened in February 2020.
Read our complete guide to Middle Eastern Restaurants in Washington DC
Understanding A DC United Match
MLS rules observe international soccer rules according to FIFA. This means there are two halves in a game, totally 45 minutes each.
Your match is likely to run over by a few minutes each half, as stoppage time is added in the 45th and 90th minute to account for any injuries, goals or substitutions made throughout the game. Unlike American football, soccer does not stop the clock for every little thing.
Unless it is a cup or playoff game, if games are tied at the end of 90 minutes, then the game is finished (except in cases of added stoppage time).
Players cannot use their hands to impact play unless they are the goalkeeper, and then in that case they can use their hands to save shots in the eighteen-yard box around their goal.
D.C. United Chants
Audi Field is NEVER quiet when DC United is on the pitch. You can hear the Screaming Eagles in full force, and recognize where the die-hard fans are located based on the sound of drums, large flags waving and nonstop chants coming from one end of the soccer field.
While the team has many chants, a few you should know before you head out to your first match include “Oh United” and “DC United.”
But don’t worry, every chant is easy to pick up on and join in the fun. When all else fails, get to your feet and clap along!
If you want to be extra prepared– grab a Screaming Eagles song sheet from the fan site.
- Ohhhh, United
- United! United!
- Vamos United
- D.C. United!
- *clap clap – clap – clap clap clap*
What To Wear To A D.C. United Match
DC United colors are black, red, and white, so any variation of those colors is a great start. You can also look at official team gear from one of the shops at Audi Field.
If you want to grab your DC united gear ahead of time, check out a few of our favorites below.
- DC United Scarf
- DC United T-Shirt with original eagle logo
- Adidas D.C. United Jersey (mens- black)
- Adidas D.C. United Jersey (mens- white)
- Adidas MLS Youth Girls Target Forward Long Sleeve Hoodie
Additional Reporting and photos by Keryn Means
DC United FAQ
What is DC United?
DC United is a professional soccer club based in Washington D.C., USA. They play in the Eastern Conference of Major League Soccer (MLS), which is the top-tier professional soccer league in the United States and Canada.
When was DC United founded?
DC United was founded in 1995, and they played their first MLS season in 1996.
What are DC United’s colors?
DC United’s primary colors are black and white, with red accents. The team’s crest features an eagle with outstretched wings, representing the team’s connection to the nation’s capital.
What are some of DC United’s accomplishments?
DC United is one of the most successful clubs in MLS history, having won the MLS Cup (the league championship) four times, in 1996, 1997, 1999, and 2004. They have also won the Supporters’ Shield (awarded to the team with the best regular season record) four times, most recently in 2007.
Where does DC United play their home games?
DC United plays their home games at Audi Field, which is a soccer-specific stadium located in the Buzzard Point neighborhood of Washington D.C.
Who are some of DC United’s notable players?
Over the years, DC United has had many notable players, including Marco Etcheverry, Jaime Moreno, Ben Olsen, Eddie Pope, and Luciano Acosta.
Who is the current head coach of DC United?
Wayne Rooney was named head coach in 2022, replacing former DC United head coach Hernán Losada. Rooney had played in the MLS for DC United in 2018 and 2019, but went back to England to be closer to family. His return as the head coach of DC United was welcomed by fans and players a like.
How can I buy tickets to a DC United game?
You can buy tickets to DC United games on the team’s official website or through various ticketing partners such as Ticketmaster.
How can I keep up with DC United news and updates?
You can keep up with DC United news and updates on the team’s official website and social media accounts, as well as on various soccer news websites and blogs.
How can I watch DC United games?
DC United games are broadcast on various television networks and streaming services, depending on your location and cable/satellite package. In the United States, games are typically broadcast on networks like ESPN, Fox Sports, and Univision. Internationally, you can check with your local sports networks to see if they carry MLS matches.