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Monday, April 3, 2017

Freezing My Nose Off at D.C. United

I went to watch D.C United play Philadelphia Union last night. It was painful. The soccer match itself was pretty good, but everything surrounding it sucked. First, I had to drive into D.C. That is terrible in and of itself. Still, it wasn't the death drive that I went through in the Norfolk/Portsmouth/ Virginia Beach area the night before.

 Then I got to RFK, which looks like it might fall over any second, and ended up parked in a lot that had huge pools of water dotting its parking areas. I had to wonder when the sink holes were going to develop. And, to top that off, as soon as got out of my car the first stiff breeze hit. Thereafter, the rest of the night was filled with cold, cold winds blowing around, through, over, and everywhere in the stadium. The temperature dropped precipitously, and I was only wearing a sweater. I bought a hat and a scarf and put both on, wrapping the scarf around to cover the back of my head. Then, I hunkered down and watched the match as I slowly turned into a kensickle.

Philadelphia's die hard fans arrived about 30 minutes early and were sitting in the section behind me yelling their lungs out. They cheered like madmen throughout pretty much the entire game and were fairly impressive in their support for their players. Said players made a point of running past their fans and firing them up before the match.

For a while, it looked like the stands were going to be pretty empty. Then about ten minutes before the festivities started, one side filled with the local version of their rowdies and the other half-filled with regular people (I was in the end, behind the goal). Interestingly, everyone around me was speaking Spanish until about 30 minutes in when the empty seats directly behind me filled with Beautiful People. I'm pretty sure they knew less about soccer than I do and got the impression they didn't care to learn; it was just the cool place to be before heading out to the bar. 

The pregame festivities were interesting. Soccer has clearly looked around and seen that football has the opening toss over the coin, baseball has "Play Ball" (always yelled by some adorable kid), and soccer has . . .  Each one I go to tries to do something, but there's no tradition or gravitas to it. However, they have pretty successfully lifted minor league baseball's program of always running out to the field with a kid's team.

Anyway, they eventually played a soccer match. It went D.C.'s way for most of the first period, although United's goal keeper made at least one impressive save. A seeing-eye shot on goal that redirected after hitting a defender scored for D.C. and thereafter the home town team got a second goal on a penalty kick. 

The second period was much, much more in favor of Philadelphia. I don't know how many shots they made on goal, but if D.C.'s goal keeper hadn't done an amazing imitation of a vacuum they would have scored at least five times. They did score once, but the D.C. goalie was a brick wall otherwise.

Overall, it was a good game to watch with plenty of excitement all around.

Lessons learned: (1) Bring a jacket. (2) My up close seats behind the goal weren't really all that close here. There was a lot of room between the front seats and the wall around the field. (3) If your seats are too close, the "professional" photographers actually up by the wall will block your view.  (4) RFK is one of those stadiums where your A-01 seat isn't on the front row because there are rows A & B in front of you. However, this was more of a blessing than a curse for the game. (5) I don't know soccer well enough to really follow it from close to ground level. It seems to be one of those sports that is better watched from higher up (which I did in the second period). (6) Bring a jacket.

Next on the journey? The Charlotte Knights and Checkers next weekend.


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