If D.C. United has an anthem entering the final, all-important weekend of the MLS regular season, it's T.I.'s "Whatever You Like." Because how better to celebrate a collection of underpaid youngsters who scrapped their way to the finish line than with an ode to Bentleys and Patron and stacks of cash? And if D.C. United's anthem has a crooner, it's goalkeeper Louis Crayton. Because who better to belt out that tune than a midseason acquisition from Liberia via Switzerland who doesn't know the song's title, artist or lyrics, but can't stop singing its refrain? Loudly. "Every time I hear T.I., I hear Louis in the back of my head," fellow keeper James Thorpe said. "I take that home, it's in my head all day long," defender Bryan Namoff said. "That's the theme song of the locker room, him singing that day in and day out." "All the time," defender Devon McTavish noted. "That's all he says," "All day bro," midfielder Santino Quaranta agreed. Crayton sometimes expands upon the original lyrics, offering up "You can have whatever you like, when Obama is president," to amused teammates. Not knowing any better, I asked why Crayton had chosen T.I. He paused. "You know, come to think about it, words are very powerful," said Crayton, whose 32nd birthday will arrive on Sunday, when United might or might not have a chance to play its way into the postseason. "And you know, when I hear that part that says that you can have whatever you like, it is true that in life, whatever you desire, whatever you're so determined to have, you can have whatever you like. "And I remember when I wanted to come to the U.S., it was on my mind for a long time, and I kept thinking about it until the moment came. And I believe I'm living one of my dreams, and that was to play in the U.S. So life is, whatever you determine and desire to have, you can have whatever you like. That's why I know that part. I don't know the words, but I know when that part comes." Of course, T.I. was talking about "big boy ice," not cross-continental self-actualization, but whatever. And is Crayton's rendition any good, musically speaking? "No," Quaranta said. "No, no, no. Terrible. But it's so bad that it's catchy." D.C. United fans, you should know, are extremely taken with Crayton. He dances far off his line, his meanderings occasional cause supporters to rip off their eyebrows, he screams on the field as loudly as he sings in the shower, and he stops many soccer balls. Seeking a funny one-liner about why he behaves thus, I asked Crayton. He then referred to the Liberian Civil War, his friends who lost limbs and his countrymen who died. It wasn't funny. "When you've lived through the kind of situation that I have lived through, I don't see no reason why you wouldn't choose to be happy, and that's me, even when I play," he said today. "People pay the money to come and see you play. You're not clowning, but you're there to entertain them, because they come when it's cold, they come when the sun is hot. They don't want to be bored, they want to see something that will make them happy, that's why they paid the money. So you're there to entertain them." Which is why he's serenaded teammates with reggae and French-Caribbean Zouk, why he's also debuted performances of Bobby Brown's "My Prerogative" and Timex Social Club's "Rumors." Oh, and he's quite fond of the U.S. National Anthem, which he actually started singing in the locker room when he was still playing in Switzerland. "I don't think he knows all the words, though," Clyde Simms said. "No, I don't know all the words," Crayton admitted, "but at least I know a few lines. I don't know. I just sing it."
D.C. United is my favorite MLS team, for the record. I do also believe there should be a favorite soccer team icon at the top, similar to the NCAAF or the MLB.