MLS History 101: "Harry the Happy Squirrel"

As several people reminded me last week in the midst of a particularly inane kerfuffle over - well, I'm still not sure what, exactly, but since Dan has declared this "Dead Tyrants with Stupid Mustaches Moratorium Week" I guess I won't try and find a clever way to describe it - the basic problem is assumed knowledge.

Now, considering that back in 1996 and 97 it seemed like no better than a tossup whether MLS would still exist in 2008, the fact that now, some 13 years on, some things that every MLS fan used to know have started to fade into the mists of time is a happy problem to have.

Someday, no doubt, at family gatherings and other occasions when our grandchildren feel obligated to come by the home and pick us up for an airing out, we'll spend the day boring the little ones with tales of Lothar Mattheus and Digital Takawira and Mamadou Diallo while their parents roll their eyes and check their watches to see whether it's time to drop us back off before we miss evening our Depends change.

In the meantime though, we have an obligation to future generations of MLS fans to memorialize the early history of the league since, as last week's ugliness demonstrated, far too many fans were at recess playing four square and calling each other "booger face" while us pioneers were blazing the path they now blithely follow.

So with that grand and noble purpose in mind, I herewith present the first installment of "MLS History 101"

The DC Happy Squirrels.

For much of this section, we are indebted to the Homer of Major League Soccer, the Josephus of New Jersey, the Thucydides of American professional soccer, Micheal Mejido.

It was he who, at great personal risk, was able to bring to light the following SHOCKING HISTORICAL INFORMATION:

DC United is financed by Nazi money

It is common knowledge that the "Evil Empire" has been backed by leftover WWII Nazi booty ever since its inception in 1996. Here are the facts: the team was originally to be nicknamed "The Washington Happy Squirrels". The original owners were then mysteriously bought out by an organization calling themselves the "Sozialistische International", with much of the monetary backing coming from a silent partner known only as "Dieter".

The team nickname was immediately changed to "United", and "Harry the Happy Squirrel" was removed as mascot and replaced with "Gunter the Pureblood Eagle". Coincidence? We think not.

As incredible as this tale may have been, it paled in comparison to the staggering revelation that followed, regarding who it was that actually FOUNDED THE SCREAMING EAGLES.

All of which of course dovetailed nicely with the embarassing problems DC had coming up with a logo which did not scream "Joseph Goebbels" to all and sundry.

Although the initial public design, which the operative calling himself "Knave" used for many years as his avatar but which has otherwise been lost to posterity, was quickly altered due to it's resemblance to an SA uniform patch, and the one that succeeded it, which was a dead ringer for a Wehrmacht pocket patch, also was quickly withdrawn prior to the present crest, which is soothingly Luftwaffe reminiscent.

But perhaps the most intriguing piece of evidence still in existence is this piece of rare historical soccer game footage, which has somehow survived despite suppression efforts. It clearly shows an early DC United team -- note the colors and the badge on the left chest - in action during an international "friendly"

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The style, the thuggery, the obviously blackmailed or biased referees. Plain as the nose on your face..

Now I'm sure we can all agree that one or two pieces of evidence can just be dismissed as coincidence, but the preponderance of the surviving archival data clearly points in one direction.

Some of you can be forgiven for your overwrought, even absurd, response to last week's post, but frankly, as they say, some people doth protest too much.

Next week: The Legend of Paul Grafer's pants.

*Note: even back then, most DC ans accepted the narrative as what it was: the hapless complaints of fans who were sick and tired of watching DC United beat their brains out. There were of course some who wanted to whine and cry in a manner we all witnessed just last week, but most of them chuckled and recognized that, if they hadn't won three MLS Cups, nobody would have bothered.