News & Politics

DC’s Best Sports Moments of 2019

Goodbye, clichéd DC sports misery takes!

Fans celebrated the Nationals' World Series win in the rain. Photograph by Evy Mages

While some teams still managed to toil in the mediocrity that Washingtonians have long grown accustomed, others shined. The Washington Nationals and Mystics both walked alway with championship titles and Alex Ovechkin is still Alex Ovechkin.

In case you’re still in shock (like we are), it’s worth taking a trip down memory lane to relive the good times. Here are some of DC’s best sports moments of the year.

The Nationals Capture Their First World Series Title

This list could easily just be a list of the greatest hits of the Nationals postseason. And really, could you blame us if it was? Rising out of a 19-31 hole during the regular season, the Nationals took an unlikely path to their first World Series title and had a lot of fun doing it. We’ll always remember Howie Kendrick’s NLDS Game 5 grand slam, Brian Dozier’s celebratory shirtless dance to “Calma,” and, of course, the endless refrains of “Baby Shark.”

Rose Lavelle’s Goal Against the Netherlands

Washington Spirit midfielder Rose Lavelle skyrocketed to national hero status with her goal against the Dutch national team in the 69th minute of the FIFA Women’s World Cup final. Her left-footed tally gave the USWNT a 2-0 lead, which they ultimately held onto to win the match. On her return home, Lavelle and the USWNT captured the hearts of American soccer fans— especially her mini-me “Little Rose Lavelle,” a young fan who shares the star’s name.

The DC Sports Friendships on Display During Playoffs

Cue the cliché about “a city known for its divisions.” Just kidding. DC’s biggest sports stars showed just how friendly Washingtonians can be by showing up in support for their fellow athletes during the playoffs. Wizards stars Bradley Beal and John Wall were major supporters of the Mystics during their championship run, jumping out of their seats and hyping up fans and players alike.

Plus, the Capitals and Nationals forged the ultimate sports bromance in 2019. Two of DC’s most recent championship squads posed together for a photo on the ice as the Capitals honored the Nationals for their World Series win, then partied well into the morning hours.

Elena Delle Donne Joins the 50-40-90 Club

We already knew the Mystics star was elite, but Elena Delle Donne added to her list of accomplishments by becoming the first player in WNBA history to to join the 50-40-90 club. For the uninitiated, this means that Delle Donne shot at least 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from three-point range, and 90 percent from the free throw line during the season.

Not impressed yet? The other eight players to accomplish this feat are all NBA players: Larry Bird, Steve Nash, Mark Price, Reggie Miller, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, and Malcom Brogdon.

Wayne Rooney’s Stunning Goal From Beyond Midfield

Wayne Rooney has still got it. The English football star scored a wild goal from beyond the midfield line in DC United’s 1-0 win against Orland City in June. Though Rooney departed for his home country at the end of the MLS season, we’ll still remember this goal from his brief tenure fondly.

Alex Ovechkin Becomes Highest Scoring Russian Player in NHL History

While the Capitals couldn’t follow up on their Cup win, the Great Eight continued to be, well, great. With his secondary assist on TJ Oshie’s game-opening goal against the Vancouver Canucks in February, Alex Ovechkin passed Sergei Fedorov to become the all-time Russian-born points leader in the NHL on his 1,180th point.

The Mystics Win Game 5 for First WNBA Championship

The Mystics took the WNBA by storm this season, fielding the best offense in league history en route to the playoffs. However, the road to their first WNBA title was far from easy – league MVP Delle Donne played with three herniated disks in her back and a number of other teammates were playing through injury against a tough Connecticut Sun squad. All these factors made it even sweeter when the Mystics hoisted the hardware.

Coleen Rooney’s Insta-Sleuthing

We certainly don’t envy the level of attention spouses and families of athletes must endure—especially when the athlete in question is as famous as Wayne Rooney. The former DC United star’s wife, fed up with stories about herself and her family getting leaked to British tabloid The Sun, pulled off a months-long investigation that would put SVU to shame.

Rooney blocked all but one of her Instagram followers from seeing her Instagram stories, then posted a series of fake stories to her social media. When these stories found their way into The Sun, Rooney believed she knew the exact culprit: Rebekah Vardy, the wife of another English footballer.

The drama! The intrigue! We’d say Rooney should be on the Real Housewives of Potomac, but sadly, her time in DC has come to a close.

Rui Hachimura Makes His NBA Debut With The Wizards

The Wizards of this season and last certainly…exist. One point of intrigue has been Rui Hachimura, the Wizards’ 2019 first-round draft pick and the highest drafted Japanese-born player in NBA history. The rookie scored a double-double in his debut against the Dallas Mavericks, with 14 points and 15 rebounds. While some scratched heads at the Wizards’ draft choice, Hachimura has had a promising first-year, averaging 13.9 points and 5.8 rebounds so far.

The Redskins Continue to Exist

This is a plus or minus, depending on how you look at it.

And in memoriam…

Washington sports teams also said goodbye to a number of beloved players this year. They’re still alive, but they were traded/signed to other teams and we don’t make the rules.

Like any title-winning team, the Nationals had to say goodbye to a number of players on the championship squad. Notably, the “Baby Shark” era ended with Gerardo Parra signing with a Japanese team, while Anthony Rendon signed a seven-year, $245 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels.

Meanwhile, the Capitals said goodbye to some notable players from their 2018 Stanley Cup squad. Fan favorite Andre Burakovsky was traded to the Colorado Avalanche for draft picks, while Brett Connolly signed with the Florida Panthers in free agency. Veteran Matt Niskanen was traded to Philadelphia for Radko Gudas, and Brooks Orpik retired.

Plus, Washington lost a football team this season—just not the one you might hope for. The Arena Football League filed for bankruptcy in late November, killing the Washington Valor with it. However, with the newly minted DC Defenders and the XFL beginning play in 2020 maybe, just maybe, DC will have a football team win more than three games this season.

Editorial Fellow

Madeline Rundlett is an editorial fellow for Washingtonian. She previously covered All-Met sports for the Washington Post and was an editorial intern at The Hill. Madeline graduated from the George Washington University with a degree in Political Communication in 2019.