I've been waiting for the first real "is this DC United team one of the best in MLS history" stories, and here it is, posted yesterday at MLSnet.
Should United win the Supporters Shield, win the MLS Cup, and maybe throw in a US Cup too (though I'd argue the first two would suffice), no one could argue that this team would belong in the argument. Baring unfortunate injuries to more than one key player and/or an unforeseen dropoff in play, the Supporters Shield seems highly possible: if Dallas were to average two points a game in their remaining season they would finish with 62 points, meaning DCU would need 18 points out of 12 games, which seems very doable. As far as the MLS Cup, well, it's bogus, as DCU sorta proved in 2004 and LA Galaxy definitively proved last year. United will still probably enter the tournament (insert your own anti-playoff screed here) as favorite.
The discussion of this team and its place in MLS history however needs to start with an assessment of the league's overall strength this year as opposed to the overall strength of the league circa 1998 or 2000 or whenever. I don't know if this year's parity (outside of DCU, Dallas, Houston) is a result of a decent level of strength among the teams or a sign of mediocrity. It's hard to watch a Columbus - Kansas City game and argue it's the former. Ningland should be better (and I still think Ningland will be playing in RFK on November 4), Nyorkyersey should be better, Kansas City should be better, but the fact is they're not, and it all can't be ascribed to DCU's superiority. It is a sign of a good team to beat teams they should, but until and unless DCU stomp through the rest of the season, the postseason tournament, and then win at least the first two rounds in CONCACAF Champion's League next winter, can we all hold off on annointing them the best of anything yet?