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White House Guests

For only the second time in MLS history, the reigning champions were invited to the White House for a chat with the president, a photo op and, in the tradition of teams of all sorts, the chance to present a jersey to the commander in chief. That moment arrived Tuesday for the Houston Dynamo, which stuck around Washington for a couple extra days following Saturday's 2-1 loss to D.C. United at RFK Stadium.

"This is, without a doubt, the memory we will take from this trip, a memory we will keep with us the rest of our lives," team captain Wade Barrett said. "It doesn't win us any points in the standings over the next couple games, but certainly made this trip memorable."

The team watched Bush's helicopter land on the grounds, took a guided tour of the building and then spent about 15 minutes with the president. They presented him with a championship ring, an orange No. 1 jersey, a ball and a team pendent for the First Lady.

"At first, I wasn't too excited about coming here, but when you actually stand face to face with the most powerful man in the country, it's pretty exhilarating and pretty cool," forward Brian Ching said. "The moment will leave a lasting impression."

Said Barrett: "He definitely did have a little bit of soccer knowledge, which surprised us."

Such as? "Well, he talked to his father, who was at our first game [in Houston this season]. It was just very engaging. He made us all feel welcome."

more quotes below.....

Ching: "We know he's a little more of a baseball guy, but he was good to us. ... On the field we are still frustrated, but it was nice to be able to enjoy the day."

Goalkeeper Pat Onstad, a Canadian who became a U.S. citizen last year, hopes the visit will rub off on the team. "Hopefully, it's a little incentive to get invited back next year. We've got a long way to go right now. I'm excited to see how we turn it around. I am confident we will."

Coach Dominic Kinnear ran the team through a practice at the RFK training grounds Monday. Following the White House visit, the team headed to the airport for the flight home and to begin preparing for Sunday's match against Dallas.

"It's one of those things where you can't pass up the opportunity," Kinnear said. "The results aren't going our way, but this is a reflection of last year's achievement and obviously another reward for all the work we put in last year. We've had a chance to be together and we're looking forward to Sunday because the only way you can cure your problems is getting back on the field."

United visited the White House following its 1997 championship.

By Steve Goff  |  May 29, 2007; 3:58 PM ET
Categories:  MLS  
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