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D.C. United Provides Washington Redskins A Glimpse Of The Future

D.C. United is a young team with loads of potential that is likely to come up just short of the playoffs. Should we expect to see the same thing from the Redskins this season?

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Tell me if this sounds familiar. A young team with lots of potential that is surprisingly putting up good results sooner than expected. Young stars who are coming along quickly. A coach who has won championships before.

No I'm not talking about the Washington Redskins. I'm talking about D.C. United.

The local soccer team that has taken up residence at RFK Stadium for the last 15 years, 50 years after the Redskins called the historic venue their home. United is in the midst of a fight for playoff position that they are likely to lose. With just five games remaining in the 2011 MLS season, United is two points out of the last wild card spot, and four points out of grabbing one of the Eastern Conference's three guaranteed playoff spots.

This season for United has had its share of ups and downs as the young collection of players continues to gel. United turned in the team's best performance in years just two weeks ago in a 4-1 thumping of Real Salt Lake that featured a Dwayne De Rosario hat trick, but followed it up with a disappointing 3-2 loss to the rival Philadelphia Union just days later.

Ups and downs is what Redskins fans should come to expect this year.

Getting too emotionally invested in a team that is off to a 3-1 start is easily forgivable. But you might regret it. Just like D.C. United has occasionally shown the potential to be an MLS Cup contender, the Redskins seem like sudden favorites to win the NFC East.

Not so fast though. We should know better.

We've read this story before. As the schedule gets tougher later in the season, the chances of the Redskins building upon their excellent start aren't high. There will be letdowns, especially for a team with so much youth on the roster. Its a part of life in the NFL. Or any sport for that matter.

A team as young as the Redskins is bound to make some mistakes, no matter how well coached they are. Every game won't be as winnable as the team's 17-10 victory over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday. Ryan Kerrigan might look like a Rookie Of The Year candidate right now, but so did United's Perry Kitchen in the early parts of his season. Trent Williams looks like a Pro Bowl candidate, but is his good run of form sustainable over 16 games? We'll need these young stars to put together a full year of solid performances before we start to fill out our ballots

There's still plenty that could go wrong for the Redskins. Just like a season-ending injury to Chris Pontius has seemingly crippled D.C. United's playoff hopes, the Redskins' lack of depth at several key positions could be exposed by a single injury to an established starter.

The story sounds the same for the Redskins and United, but the results may ultimately be different. The ending hasn't yet been written for United - three home games in the final eight days of the season will prove what that team is really made of. And if they fall just short, at least their fans team still have a lot to look forward to as the team continues to grow together and gain experience.

But the story has hardly begun for the Redskins. Performing consistently and beating beatable teams is a great start for this young team. But how will their story end?