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Injustice at United Awards Night

I watched the third annual D.C. United Awards Reception last night with United beat writer Steven Goff and the Soccer Guru, and we were all slackjawed with amazement when the goal of the year was announced. The announced winner was a rather innocuous strike by Facundo Erpen, which was perfectly nice, but not the sort of thing that would make you jump out of your chair. The real winner was obviously Christian Gomez's mid-air volley against the L.A. Galaxy, seen below. When that goal played on the video screen yesterday, the entire United team, led by Alecko Eskandarian and Ben Olsen, jumped out of their chairs. Then they clapped and pointed at Gomez. It would seem they agreed with us.

"I think Facundo had some Argentinians double-clicking," Esky later confided in me.

In fact, Esky told me that he had actually gotten on United's Web site and voted for Gomez's goal himself, even though he was nominated in the same category. He said he was distracted during the restart after Gomez's goal in L.A., because he was trying to watch the replay on the big screen.

But maybe United was trying to spread the wealth, since Gomez was winning everything else. He won the Budweiser Golden Boot for being United's leading scorer, a prize that was neither golden nor a boot, and that was announced to the strains of "I Like to Move It." He won the fans' choice award, to the melodic stylings of 50 Cent's "Just a Little Bit." He won the Honda MVP award, as Christina Aguilera shrieked "Ain't No Other Man," and at least one person in the audience wondered whether Hot 99.5 was DJ'ing this party. Gomez dedicated the first award to his children, thanked the fans for the second award, and praised his wife after the third award. If he had gotten any more trophies, he would have had to thank the caterers or the United PR staff or something, so it was all just as well.

But the best award of the night was probably claimed by Clyde Simms, who won a bottle of champagne after entering the pre-event drawing. I had hoped this was some sort of business card contest, in which Simms had dropped in a card that said "Clyde Simms, D.C. United, midfielder," but really he just had to write his name on a piece of paper. Still, props to him for the big win.

Here's the Gomez goal:



Other highlights from last night, besides the outstanding cucumber-Mozzarella-oven roasted tomato skewers:

1) Peter Nowak and other front office types snuck out of the reception several times for smoking breaks.

2) The Screaming Eagles supporters club offered me a spot on their 55-seat bus for Saturday's trip to the playoff opener in the Meadowlands. The bus ride will include lots of beer and viewings of Old School and Harold and Kumar. It sounds like great fun to me. "Bring cyanide," advised the Soccer Guru.

3) Nowak gave a fiery speech at the end of the event, during which he summed up the season and the team's mindset entering the playoffs, and in which he addressed his players, who were sitting in the first three rows in their natty pin-striped suits and black and red ties that made them look borderline mobster. Nowak's words:

Some of us will be back, some of us maybe not, but in the next four weeks we will do everything in our power to bring you trophy, to bring the passion back....Soccer is a game you can win, you can tie, you can lose. The choice is ours. But you guys deserve more than anything to be in Dallas and to raise the trophy again....I can assure you is going to be completely different team Saturday in New York, and we're going to go there, and we're going to beat them at home again!!!

It all sounded vaguely of Howard Dean. But you've gotta love the confidence.

4) Team president Kevin Payne introduced the team, but missed Bryan Namoff and Freddy Adu and Esky, and when he corrected himself he seemed to refer to our item last week on Esky's rankings of the best-looking lads in the lockerroom. ("He makes lists, apparently, which are rather odd," Payne said.) So there's at least one person reading the Bog besides my dad. Payne also said Gomez will be the league MVP ""if there is any justice at all in the world," and started a sentence with the words "When we win the Cup again this year." Gotta love the confidence.

5) Speaking of the best-looking lads rankings, two anonymous female team employees told me that they agreed with Esky, and that Devon McTavish and Ryan McIntosh would have been better choices for "most eligible bachelor" awards than Bobby Boswell.

6) The day after the mini-golf tournament, the team's mini-golfing contingent headed back to Top Golf for the real competition. Andy Metcalf lost, which means he has to go to the next outing in beach gear: flip-flops, a wifebeater, a beach towel, and zinc oxide on his nose.

7) Some strange bidding at the silent auction. The signed 1996 D.C. United ball fetched $250, while the signed Ovechkin stick brought in $155, and the signed Agent Zero jersey went for the bargain price of $95. Had I known, I would have bid $105. Jeez. Also, why is a D.C. team auctioning a signed Donovan McNabb football but no Redskins items? I mean, a signed Mark Brunell football would have easily gotten 12 or 13 cents.

8) Ben Olsen said he's bloody sick of seeing my picture in the paper, which makes two of us.

9) My child will easily be traceable to 2007, for the following reason: I will now be able to tell him or her that I was blogging from the reception area of the doctor's office while I waited to see his or her ultrasound. The things I do for my readers.

By Dan Steinberg  |  October 17, 2006; 10:59 AM ET
Categories:  D.C. United  
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