D.C. United is an American professional soccer club based in Washington, D.C. The club competes as a member of the Eastern Conference in Major League Soccer, the top level of professional American soccer. The franchise began play in 1996 as one of the ten charter clubs of the league. The club was one of the most successful clubs in the early years of MLS, winning eight of its thirteen titles between 1996 and 1998 under then head coach Bruce Arena. United holds the joint MLS record for most Supporters' Shields, has four MLS Cups, and been crowned U.S. Open Cup champions three times. It is also the first club to win both the MLS Supporters' Shield and MLS Cup consecutively.
The team's colors and original logo were announced on October 17, 1995, along with those of the other ten original teams during a presentation in New York City. Black and white are D.C. United's primary colors, though the team's nickname is the "Black-and-Red." Red is used to accent the home jersey while white is the main color of the team's away kit. The three stripes along the shoulder – in white at home and black on the road – do not represent the three jurisdictions of the Washington Metropolitan Area (Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia); rather, they represent the fact that the team's kits are made by Adidas. United's shirt sponsor is Reston, Virginia defense company Leidos. In 2011, the team introduced a predominantly red third kit with black accents to be worn four or more times in the season.The team has also previously used white away uniforms with red stripes; white and red are the colors of the flag of Washington, D.C., and the stripes are also reminiscent of those used on the flag.
The team's original shield was implemented in 1996 consisting of the team's name, D.C. United, above a black bald eagle facing right on a red field, clawing three soccer balls overlaid on three white stars. The three stars and balls were intended to represent the region's three jurisdictions. The bird, associated with the federal government based in Washington, D.C., symbolizes many of the attributes of the team, including speed and power. The logo was redesigned before the 1998 season. The current design reoriented the eagle facing left, and removed the three stars below it, whose metaphor was retained by three raised wing feathers. At the center of the eagle is a single gold-colored star and soccer ball, which represents the team's victory in Major League Soccer's inaugural cup in 1996.The logo can also be adorned with four silver stars above it, representing the MLS Cups the team has won.
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