The year 1998 was etched into the history of American soccer and, in particular, for DC United, as a chapter of epic achievements driven by the undeniable Bolivian talent personified in Marco Etcheverry, known as El Diablo.
In that season, DC United not only clinched the MLS Cup, the North American title, but went beyond, becoming the first U.S. club to win the CONCACAF Champions’ Cup. The remarkable performance during the regular season, with players like Jaime Moreno and Raúl Díaz Arce under the guidance of coach Bruce Arena, laid the foundation for a historic year.
The pinnacle of the campaign was the victory over Toluca, the reigning Mexican champion, in the Concachampions final. Eddie Pope’s goal, the result of a strategic play led by Etcheverry, broke the Mexican dominance in the competition, showcasing the strength and resilience of DC United.
Furthermore, the CONCACAF Champions’ Cup provided an international stage for DC United to shine. The overwhelming victory over Joe Public F.C., with Roy Lassiter scoring four goals, and the subsequent win against León, solidified DC United’s position as a force to be reckoned with in the Americas.
The boldness of the club did not stop there. Facing Vasco da Gama in the clash between the champions of CONCACAF and the Copa Libertadores, DC United, despite losing the first leg, displayed resilience and skill in the return match. Goals from Tony Sanneh and Eddie Pope sealed the victory, cementing DC United as the undisputed champion of the Americas that year.
However, the luster of that period contrasts with the current lack of recognition. Former coach Bruce Arena highlights a disconnect between the present and the glorious past of the club. Where tributes to Marco Etcheverry and Jaime Moreno should be, there seems to be an inexplicable distancing.
To recall the year 1998 is not only to celebrate DC United’s triumphs but also to revive the tradition and greatness that shaped the club. The history of American soccer would not be complete without the unforgettable chapter written by El Diablo and his Bolivian companions on the DC United fields in 1998. May the present and future of the club duly recognize and honor these extraordinary achievements.