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Naked D.C. United

(Courtesy ESPN The Magazine)

Observations about this naked D.C. United photo from ESPN the Mag's upcoming Body Issue, in six parts. Get the magazine on newsstands Friday, assuming Ben Olsen doesn't follow through on his promise to burn up all the local issues.

Bad Dreams

"You always have that bad dream, where you're naked on the soccer field, you know?" Ben Olsen said Wednesday afternoon. "I've had it before, for sure. You forget your uniform, you're out there, and it just somehow came true during a photo shoot. It was pretty trippy."

I talked to four of the United players who went ahead and took their clothes off for ESPN, and all four said went through moments of second-guessing.

"It was definitely bizarre," Olsen said. "Leading up to it, we said yes to it, not really knowing what it was. And then the day came when we really were gonna do this thing, and we were like, 'What did we do? Did we really agree to this?' "

"It was a little bit weird in the beginning," Jaime Moreno agreed. "Different, very different."

"I thought it'd be pretty cool, but I guess reality kind of set in when [PR guy Kyle Sheldon] showed me the picture," Clyde Simms said.

"It hit me hard, too," Santino Quaranta said. "People have been asking me about this since I told them, asking when is it coming out. And I just said, 'I think in October.' But now I'm not telling anybody."

The Shoot

The shoot was done on a blazing hot day. The six players went out on the pitch with their ESPN robes on. Then they were asked to take them off. They all sort of looked at each other, and finally Olsen disrobed.

"I had a job to do," Olsen said. "And that was part of the job, was to drop the robe."

"It was awkward," Quaranta added. "They were like 'Jump, all right jump, jump.' We just kept jumping. Naked. In RFK."

Building the Wall

The players, as you can see, were formed in the traditional soccer wall, facing balls driven in their direction by United's equipment manager. Apparently, they were attempting to build a genuine wall, which required Bryan Namoff to make the Scheyer Face, and, oddly, to scissor his legs.

"The ball's gonna go right underneath the wall, man," Quaranta complained.

"Namoff was hamming it up there a little bit," Olsen said. "It's a pretty good looking wall, besides the fact that we're all naked. See, those guys were all flexing. You know, I'm a method actor. And I was really into the wall. A lot of those guys are jumping and flexing; I'm trying to do my duty to block that ball."

Avery John walked by a few moments later and asked what the picture's headline would be.

"The headline is Everybody Flexes Besides Ben," Olsen said.

At Least They Weren't Chara

Did you see this photo from the same issue of Bruins defender Zdeno Chara?

"Oh my God," Quaranta said, upon seeing Chara's pose. "I feel good about myself now."

Family and Friends

I guess that's one of the issues when you pose naked for the world. Rookie Chris Pontius was out today, but he previously talked to the Examiner's Craig Stouffer about the issue. "I think my mom's going to kill me," Pontius said.

"I told my parents," Simms said. "I don't think it'll hit them until they actually see it."

"Man, I don't know if I can show that to my daughter," Quaranta observed.

I asked Moreno and Olsen about their wives' reaction; "Well, I guess like anybody, who would want to see your husband naked [on the newstand]?" Moreno said. "When I explained what the pictures were, she was fine."

As for Olsen's wife, "she's seen me naked before, believe it or not," he joked. "My mother's not happy. She's gonna have to explain this at her Catholic church."

Sex Symbols?

This photo appears in the magazine's more humorous section, but still, I needed to find a place to use this quote:

"You know, athletes, we spend a lot of time without our clothes on in the locker room," Olsen said. "We're never that shy about being naked, and the guys say I'm less shy than even most of them. I mean, whatever."

And also this quote:

"I don't see anything sexy about it, to be honest with you," Moreno said.

And also this quote:

"It makes you look a lot less hairy," Quaranta noted, while looking at Olsen's image.

"I look diesel," Olsen responded.

And also this quote:

"I turned down a lot of people asking me to pose nude, and I just finally got sick of turning people down," Olsen said. "I said, all right fine, I'm gonna do one. And then I'll never do one again."

[Many thanks to the players for answering these questions. I'm gonna do this once, and then I'll never do it again.]

By Dan Steinberg  |  October 7, 2009; 4:06 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. United , Media  
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Next: DeShawn Stevenson's Ducktail


Is espn the mag really struggling to sell magazines THIS badly? This is beyond odd.

Posted by: Barno1 | October 7, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

"This reporter smells another local Emmy!" -Kent Brockman

Posted by: EdTheRed | October 7, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Wow. Is this better or worse than the Donovan, Beasley, and Mastro pics from the NYT Mag before the 2002 WC?

Posted by: gocaps2 | October 7, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Also, this was right after the LA game. I see the banner still up in front of the Screaming Eagles sections there.

Posted by: gocaps2 | October 7, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Now THAT'S the right blend of players on the field!


Posted by: Section117 | October 7, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

THAT is a STRANGE photo!

Posted by: charley42 | October 7, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Shep Messing was ahead of his time.

Posted by: -rke- | October 7, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

This is so disgusting.

Posted by: rachel216 | October 7, 2009 5:39 PM | Report abuse

Wow. Is this better or worse than the Donovan, Beasley, and Mastro pics from the NYT Mag before the 2002 WC?

Posted by: gocaps2 | October 7, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Much more tolerable, I would say. Thanks for bringing up some suppressed memories of Keller naked with puppies and Landon making his bedroom eyes at me from the water fountain.

Posted by: Josh86 | October 7, 2009 6:02 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: dpkennedy | October 7, 2009 6:23 PM | Report abuse

The United fanboys are all going to need Fatheads of that shot for their walls.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | October 7, 2009 7:22 PM | Report abuse

These photos will cause many homosexual men to go out and buy these magazines.

Posted by: NYCPuertoRican | October 7, 2009 7:31 PM | Report abuse

PowerBoater69, this is the only time you've made me laugh...and out loud.

Fatheads for all.

Posted by: seahawkdad | October 7, 2009 7:43 PM | Report abuse

This is definitely not as weird as those national team shots from a few years ago. This is silly and weird; those (especially the one of Donovan) were actually unsettling.

This whole thing (the issue, not just this picture) is strange, but I guess if an MLS team can be in something that is getting so much attention, I'm glad it's us and not someone else.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | October 7, 2009 7:51 PM | Report abuse

Too bad Bobby Boswell isn't still on the team...

Did I just say that?!

Posted by: misschatter | October 7, 2009 7:58 PM | Report abuse

wow, look at those guns on Chara!

Posted by: fedssocr | October 7, 2009 8:46 PM | Report abuse

I'm not gonna lie, this picture turned me on a LOT. Very hot stuff. Very.

Posted by: Poopy-McPoop | October 7, 2009 8:55 PM | Report abuse

Dan, were you naked when asking the questions?

Posted by: Barracudas | October 7, 2009 9:03 PM | Report abuse

I must admit that Ben was holding onto his valueables for dear life!

Posted by: Barracudas | October 7, 2009 9:05 PM | Report abuse

Well done, boys. Hottttttt.

Posted by: bgmnt | October 7, 2009 9:47 PM | Report abuse

one word.........awkward........

Posted by: boda-united | October 7, 2009 10:10 PM | Report abuse

I think Namoff's doing the tuck.

Posted by: delantero | October 7, 2009 11:41 PM | Report abuse

Yet ANOTHER reason not to like soccer.

Posted by: freakzilla | October 8, 2009 12:32 AM | Report abuse

Yet ANOTHER reason not to like soccer.

Posted by: freakzilla | October 8, 2009 12:32 AM | Report abuse

What were the other ones?

Posted by: Southeasterner | October 8, 2009 7:19 AM | Report abuse

I'm not gonna lie, this picture turned me on a LOT. Very hot stuff. Very.

Posted by: Poopy-McPoop | October 7, 2009 8:55 PM

I'm deeply honored someone took the time to create a fake "Poopy McPoop" account and than make a post in the hopes people would link the previous post to me. Quite the ruse.

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | October 8, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Well he doesn't like soccer because it obviously challenges his masculinity, while the image of a naked United wall, challenges his sexuality.

Posted by: alecw81 | October 8, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

There are no lines on the field. Is the pitch supposed to be au natural as well?

Posted by: emrj | October 8, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

This is obviously photoshoppped. The net is in front of the Screaming Eagles section. They probably did the picture in the locker room or somewhere more private, and then cropped them into the RFK background.

Poopy, I thought it was the real you at first, so I'm glad you commented and clarified!

Posted by: kdiff813 | October 8, 2009 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Poopy, I thought it was the real you at first, so I'm glad you commented and clarified!

Posted by: kdiff813 | October 8, 2009 7:48 PM

Yeah, figured I had to step in since my admirer was doing the same thing over in the Terps Insider. I'm very flattered by his/her admiration. It makes me feel like I have a young apprentice or something.

Of course in terms of the imposters comment, to borrow a quote from Seinfeld, "not that there's anything wrong with that."

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | October 8, 2009 8:57 PM | Report abuse

Only good thing about this photo is they moved the goal in front of some seats. Almost makes it look like a soccer team is using that stadium.

Other than that, way to pick THE most undignified game situation. Real nightmare scenario!

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | October 8, 2009 9:19 PM | Report abuse

Scratch that. A goal celebration would have been worse, and some Central American forward would see it and get the wrong idea.

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | October 8, 2009 9:21 PM | Report abuse

It is a matter of aesthetics - their form follows function. Think of the positions they play.


CHEERS GUYS - Maybe not a "prude" among you!

Posted by: Chris543 | October 8, 2009 9:21 PM | Report abuse

Disappointing -- both for the United team and ESPN mag. My previous impression of both was that they were classier than this. I stopped going to SI because of their swimsuit issue long ago. I hope finds other, classier ways to prop up their mag.

Posted by: mesam | October 9, 2009 10:01 AM | Report abuse

These guys rock! I would much rather see them without clothes than some 300 pound football lineman. These guys got some quads...and abs...and pecs (well maybe not Ben). lol. But we all love Ben the best anyway, so he doesn't need pecs.

Posted by: leeannhbg | October 10, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

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