Monday, October 23, 2017

Being There: DC United's last Match in RFK Stadium

We caught DC United's last game in RFK Stadium yesterday afternoon. Despite DC United losing, it was still an awesome time.

The afternoon started with a Legends Match, which to the untrained eye, was a bunch of old guys playing soccer. But even here, true skill was on display and I could tell from the reception some of the players were getting, that they were beloved. Take the older and huskier fellow wearing the #10 black jersey. That turned out to be Marco Etcheverry. And who is Marco Etcheverry? The Internet explains:

Marco Etcheverry is one of the best midfielders to ever play in Major League Soccer.

He signed with D.C. United upon the formation of Major League Soccer in 1996 and is arguably the greatest player to ever wear United’s uniform. He led DC to three of the first four MLS Cups and was named MLS Most Valuable Player in 1998.

Oh that Marco Etcheverry.

After Legends match (and some delicious cheese pupusas and some sub-par stadium pizza), it was time for the main event. I'd been to a handful of DC United matches in the past, but even with expectations set, I was impressed. The seats were awesome (thanks Nick!), and so we were right up on the action. You could see the determination on the defender's face as he tried to wrench the ball from the attacker, and the attacker's skill at maintaining control of the ball at all costs. It was pretty sweet to have DC United score its only goal of the night right in front of us.

My knowledge of soccer goes back to whatever I learned playing on the Toros as a kid in Rochester. Which is to say, I definitely know the basics, but there are plenty of details that allude me. Throughout the games I'd inevitably get confused and turn to P. sitting next to me and ask: what happened? He who would patiently explain the penalty, or offsides or other event that had had prompted my confusion. I definitely recommend bringing your own soccer expert to the game!

This was the last DC United game played in RFK. Man, RFK must have been a sight to see back in the 1970's. Today, it's definitely showing its age, with a whole lot of rust and decay on display. I vividly recall my first DC United game, where the upper decks of the stadium were off limits. It almost felt like we'd all broken in and the teams were playing some sort of off-the-books game. Yesterday, they had the upper decks open and the stadium felt far more alive. But still, it's clearly time to retire this bad boy.

What a fun day and I'm definitely looking forward to seeing my home team bring it in their new stadium!

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