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One thing every DC team can be thankful for this Thanksgiving

One thing every DC team can be thankful for this Thanksgiving

The holiday season is a great time for reflection, when everyone gathers with their loved ones and can look back on the events of the year that’s about to come to a close.

It’s been a busy year for the six major professional D.C. sports franchises, some of which finished on top of the world while others became difficult to watch. When the players, coaches, executives and owners of those teams sit down with their families for Thanksgiving dinner, they’ll have a lot to talk about.

But whether or not 2019 has been a year of success or a year of disappointment, every team will have something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

Capitals: Their month-long, 13-point streak

The Caps entered play Thursday tied with the Boston Bruins with the most points in the NHL at 39. Their place atop the league standings was fueled by a 13-game stretch in which they went 11-0-2 and jumped out ahead of the rest of the NHL in the race for the Presidents’ Trophy.

It propelled them to their best start through 20 games in Capitals history, giving them an advantage in the standings that’s come in handy with the plethora of injuries (as well as a suspension) that have forced Washington to test its depth.

Nicklas Backstrom and Carl Hagelin have both missed several games as did Nic Dowd, who returned to the lineup against the Florida Panthers on Wednesday. Garnet Hathaway sat the last three contests after being suspended for spitting in the face of an opponent.

The Capitals are 3-2-1 since that streak, which allowed the red-hot Bruins to catch up with them for the top spot in the East. But their big point streak gave them a buffer that’s allowed them to absorb a few losses and remain atop the standings heading into Thanksgiving.

D.C. United: Bill Hamid playing a full season in DC again

When goalkeeper Bill Hamid departed for Europe and signed with Danish club Midtjylland in late 2017, he left a void in the D.C. United defense that proved incredibly difficult to fill. But when playing time became hard to come by for Hamid overseas, Midtjylland loaned him back to D.C. United midway through the 2018 season.

Hamid was an immediate boost for the club, and he carried over his success into 2019. The Arlington, Virginia, native recorded a .750 save percentage that led all keepers (min. 30 starts). He also posted a career high in saves with 128 and tied for the MLS lead with 14 shutouts. His strong season placed him among the finalists for the goalkeeper of the year award, an honor he won back in 2014.

Now a free to sign with any club, Hamid is one of the top priorities for D.C. United this winter and is already reportedly close to a deal that will lock him in the District long term.

Last season didn’t end the way the club wanted it to with a 5-1 extra-time loss to Toronto FC in the conference quarterfinals, but with Hamid back in the fold D.C. United would be in a much better spot to make another run at the MLS Cup.

Mystics: Their first WNBA title

Yeah, this one was pretty easy. Never mind the fact that their WNBA championship win was the Mystics’ first title in franchise history, it erased more than two decades’ worth of disappointment and misery.

This was the team that used to have banners hanging in the rafters that celebrated it as “Attendance Champions.” This was the team that won one playoff series in the first 19 years it existed.

No more.

Names like Elena Delle Donne, Kristi Toliver and Emma Meesseman will forever live in D.C. sports lore after they restored basketball glory to the District. There are certainly many offseason questions left to be answered—including the futures of the three aforementioned stars—but next season a new banner will be raised that won’t have anything to do with how many butts were in seats.

Nationals: Their first World Series title

This District of Champions thing is really catching on. The Nationals followed up the Mystics’ title run with a championship of their own less than two months later. They overcame a 19-31 start, two 100-win opponents and five elimination games to win the first World Series title in D.C. history since the Washington Senators did it in 1924.

So many incredible moments defined their playoff run.

Juan Soto’s go-ahead single off Josh Hader in the Wild Card Game that inexplicably snuck underneath Trent Grisham’s glove. Soto and Anthony Rendon going back-to-back off Clayton Kershaw to tie Game 5 of the NLDS before Howie Kendrick hit the go-ahead grand slam in the 10th inning. Max Scherzer and Aníbal Sánchez both carrying no-hitters into the seventh inning during the NLCS.

And we haven’t even gotten to the World Series yet. The offense scored five runs off Gerrit Cole in Game 1 and dropped 12 in Game 2. Stephen Strasburg pitched a game for the ages in Game 6. Kendrick drove a liner into the foul pole in Game 7. Daniel Hudson struck out Michael Brantley to end it all.

This is never going to get old.

Redskins: Terry McLaurin’s emergence

It’s been a tough year for the Redskins no matter how you look at it, but rookie wide receiver Terry McLaurin has been one of their few bright spots that already looks like a significant piece of their future. He leads all rookies with 638 receiving yards this season on 40 catches with five touchdowns despite the carousel of quarterbacks that’s started under center.

The Ohio State product was drafted in the third round and looks like one of the biggest steals of the 2019 Draft. Having already played with quarterback Dwayne Haskins in college, the Redskins are hopeful that they can further develop their rapport into a winning formula that will last in D.C.

So far, the wins have been hard to come by. But even if Haskins doesn’t pan out for Washington, the Redskins look like they may have found their future No. 1 receiver no matter who’s at quarterback.

Wizards: Bradley Beal signing an extension

When the Wizards began their rebuilding process under new general manager Tommy Shepherd, there was one significant question that would determine how they were going to go about it: How much longer is Bradley Beal going to be in D.C.?

Trade rumors circled for months, but ultimately the star shooting guard signed a two-year, $72 million extension in October that has him locked onto the Wizards until at least 2021-22. It was a shocking move, one that stunned many NBA contenders who hoped they could acquire him at the trade deadline as the final piece for a championship-contending roster.

But Beal believed in Sheppard’s plan for the organization, opting to stay with the only team he’s every known in his professional career. The Wizards still don’t figure to be legitimate contenders for at least another year, but Beal is easily the Wizards’ best player and has taken it upon himself to be a leader both on the court and in the locker room.

With Shepperd leading the front office and Beal calling the shots on the court, there are certainly reasons to be optimistic about the Wizards’ future. But for now, Washington fans can rest easy knowing their All-Star guard isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

MORE DC SPORTS NEWS:

How Wayne Rooney has gotten so good at striking from mid-field

How Wayne Rooney has gotten so good at striking from mid-field

Famed striker and DC United star Wayne Rooney joined Roger Bennett and Michael Davies for a live edition of their podcast Men in Blazers at the British Embassy on Monday.

Rooney started the conversation by discussing how his departure at the end of the season for Derby County will impact the end of his tenure with DC. For now, he's still focused on making the most of his time.

"I think our main priority right now is to secure a playoff spot and then if we do that we can try and push and try and win the title," Rooney said.

Currently, United are fourth in the table in the Eastern Conference and are clinging to a playoff berth.

Rooney then explained how he was able to knock in a shot from halfway down the field against Orlando City, saying that he had been thinking about making a shot like that since the game started.

"I'd seen the goalkeeper three, four minutes before and thinking 'why is he standing there?' He was so far out," Rooney said. 

"I think you're always taught as a child to know where the goal is no matter where you're at," Rooney clarified. "I've always been looking for keepers whenever they're in games where they're 20 yards out, 10 yards out or 50 yards out. I always try and have an awareness of where the keeper is in case the ball falls for me and can get a shot off."

The shot also requires immense amounts of confidence according to Rooney. "You have to be willing to know that you're not gonna score many times when you try it, but the odd times you might score," Rooney noted. "[Don't] be scared to make mistakes and be ready."

Rooney's strike with United was his third such time attempting a mid-field shot. He completed the feat twice while playing in the Premier League, once when he played for Everton to complete a hat trick, and again when he played for Manchester United.

Rooney remarked that the strike for Everton was one of the cleanest balls he'd ever hit.

"This one was perfect. The flight of the ball, the depth of the ball, everything was perfect," he reminisced.

You can watch Rooney's appearance on the Men In Blazers podcast on September 15 on NBC Sports Network as part of their Premier League coverage.

MORE SOCCER NEWS:

How to watch D.C. United games in 2019

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USA TODAY Sports

How to watch D.C. United games in 2019

Hello, fellow Black and Red enthusiast! If you’re excited after 2018’s late-season run for D.C. United and the optimism it brings this spring - who could blame you?

The team largely returns intact, including homegrown keeper Bill Hamid, its three-headed monster of Paul Arriola, Luciano Acosta and captain Wayne Rooney up front, and the squad added promising young midfielder Lucas Rodriguez to aid the attack.

But alas, the team announced a new multi-year deal with FloSports, putting the majority of their games solely in the streaming space. For those used to watching the squad on TV this comes as a shock, but never fear, we’re here to guide you to ensure you don’t miss any of the action this season.

What’s FloSports?

FloSports is a streaming service that will air all non-nationally televised D.C. United games in addition to original content on FloFC.com. The service is available to all residents in the DMV area, extending as far south as Richmond and all the way to Delaware. They’ll offer both English and Spanish commentary, all in high definition.

Ok, so how much does it cost?

The rate depends on a few factors. If you’re a season ticket holder, partner or a member of a supporter group (Screaming Eagles, Barra Brava, etc.), the price is $5.99 per month. For all others it’s $8.99 per month.

Can I only watch online?

Nope. FloSports can be accessed by downloading its app on iOS, Roku or Apple TV 4.

Are there any other ways to watch the team?

Yes. Audi Field is located in D.C. and offers better-than-high definition views of the team for 17 home matches this season.

What if I don’t want to pay?

Well pushy, 21 of the 34 league matches will be broadcast exclusively through FloSports, so that means 13 other matches will be nationally televised, either on ESPN, Fox Sports or UniMas.

Also, that number could grow later in the season based on the team’s performance and the whims of the major networks enforcing their programming flexibility.

When does the season start?

D.C. kicks off March 3rd against defending MLS Cup champion Atlanta United FC on ESPN, where the team hopes to continue the run of results from its late season surge in 2018 and set the tone for a new campaign.

Can I borrow your password for FloSports so I can watch the games?

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