The Scoreboard is a sports feature spotlighting the winners and losers, the champs and chumps, the highlights and lowlights, and anything in between, of sports in the D.C. area.
Mystics rookie Ariel Atkins went into the season with “no expectations at all.” She just wanted to play. What happened in the months after coach and general manager Mike Thibault selected Atkins as the number seven overall pick in April’s draft has been a pleasant surprise to even the most tuned-in fans. According to at least one projection, the team was predicted to finish eighth in the 12-league team. The Mystics ended up reaching the WNBA Finals.
Atkins had a memorable season, averaging 11.3 points per game in the regular season and 15.2 points per game in the playoffs. Even though the Seattle Storm swept the Mystics in three games last week, Atkins and her team gave viewers a glimpse of the promising future ahead.
“I think that’s the most exciting thing about what we saw in this final series is that we’re not even the best team we could possibly be,” Atkins told City Paper. “I think that’s exciting because we have so much room for growth.”
More than 9,000 fans showed up at EagleBank Arena in Fairfax to cheer on the team during Game 3. Next season, the Mystics will play in their new arena in Ward 8.
Not long ago, D.C. United was sitting near the bottom of the MLS standings. Missing the playoffs in back-to-back seasons looked inevitable.
Now with Wayne Rooney playing the part he was brought in to do and Luciano Acosta enjoying the benefits of not being the main focus for defenses, D.C. United is within one spot of qualifying for the postseason heading into a mini break. (The top six teams in each of the two conferences qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs.)
D.C. United will next play on Sept. 29 in an away game against the Montreal Impact, currently sixth in the Eastern Conference.
“The playoff spot is still in our hands,” Rooney said in a story on mlssoccer.com. “We can beat Montreal in the next game, and then we have the game in hand where we can go above them, so we have to try and take the positives from that.”
On Saturday, Sept. 15, The St. James, a 450,000-square-foot sports and wellness complex, opened in Fairfax with the aim of becoming a destination spot for D.C.-area fitness enthusiasts.
On Saturday, Sept. 22, a ribbon-cutting will mark the official opening of the 4,200-seat Entertainment and Sports Arena, which will serve as the home arena for the Mystics and the new NBA G-League team, the Capital City Go-Go, as well as the practice facility for the Wizards.
“I think it demonstrates the demand for sports in this town,” says Craig Dixon, co-founder of The St. James. “I think it demonstrates that this town has a real passion for sports and being active that wasn’t being met before. Now we have lots of new options people can check out.”
For decades, the local NFL team has claimed that it has sold out its home games, despite visual evidence to the contrary. The team is now finally being honest about its attendance. It’s historically bad.
An announced 57,013 fans attended the game on Sunday, Sept. 16—a 21-9 loss to the Indianapolis Colts—compared to the 78,658 who attended last year’s home opener. The Washington Post noted that it was the lowest-attended home opener in FedEx Field’s 21-year history.
The team didn’t give those who went much to cheer about, either. Instead, the fans booed.
“It was a new one for me,” running back Adrian Peterson told The Post. “It was different.”