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Sunday, August 4, 2013

DC United vs Montreal: The live Experience

The last and only time I was at RFK Stadium was for a World Cup Qualifier between the United States and Cuba. That game ended 6-1 in favor of the Americans. Tonight was a different game, a different atmosphere and a different time in my life. DC United put up quite a show and delivered only their third game of the season in a rainy finish in the capital city.

Washington DC is a different place from Portland, Oregon. The crowds headed towards downtown aren't all chanting for the team, some don't even know the team exists. In fact, the one other obvious fan on his way to the game was wearing a Manchester United jersey underneath a Sounders rain jacket and hat. It wasn't until much further down the line that we saw DC United fans and they were ready for the match.

The eroding stadium that is RFK still maintains a certain pedigree due to all the history. DC United is the only major team that calls it home after the Redskins and Nationals both got their own, much-newer homes. DCU might get their stadium soon, hopefully. And yet the crowds were a bit more colorful, more cosmopolitan and decidedly East Coast.

Our seats tonight were at the very edge on the west side of the stadium near the goal line. So far forward that we could have been easily hit by a wayward ball. It was an on-field experience and every call and strike of the ball by the players could be felt by us. The Luis Silva goal was as magical in design as it was due to our distance. This kid is underrated indeed.

United controlled much of the first half and was the better team both offensively and defensively. As the second half began, Montreal asserted itself and scored a sublime tally right on the same goal we had witnessed Silva's strike. It was game on and DC had let down its guard. But Olsen fought back and replaced DeRosario with Conor Doyle, who had just recently been sent on loan from Derby County. Just minutes later, Olsen's gamble paid off and Doyle scored the go-ahead goal. It should be noted that his was his first goal in his senior soccer career.

As the game drew to a close, both teams continued seeking the goal. By then, the rain had started and was getting heavier every second that passed. It was in a dream breakaway during stoppage time that Jared Jeffrey put a final touch on a 3-1 score line that truly did the game justice. But it was the incessant chants of the Montreal Impact faithful, cornered in the smallest spot at RFK, and the hundreds of fans ready to put on their DC United ponchos to counter the rain, and the smile of the one guy without rain gear, without a semblance of expression on his face as the summer evening downpour continued that really got me. This was a true soccer fan. Alone with his thoughts and inner passion, knowing that his team's season had been over for a while now, he let himself soak in the game, the sport, and the atmosphere. This wasn't just his capital city, it was his capital sport.

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