DC United Playing Final Match At RFK Stadium Ahead Of Audi Field Move Next Year
DC United will play their "final match at RFK Stadium" on Sunday against the Red Bulls after 22 seasons at the facility, according to Thomas Floyd of the WASHINGTON TIMES. United MF Nick DeLeon said, "We've got to go out with a bang. ... We have to close down this legendary stadium in the right way." As United "established a dynasty" in the late '90s, winning three of the first four MLS Cups, RFK "earned the reputation of a fortress." Images of the "rickety east-side stands bouncing in tune with the Screaming Eagles and Barra Brava defined the passion that propped up a fledgling league." Then the stadium "started showing its age." Floyd: "Rust spread. Concrete crumbled. Feral cats, wasps and, most famously, raccoons took up residence." Yet even as RFK "fell into disrepair," a "ragged charm persisted." The stadium's soccer history "knows no rivals stateside" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 10/20). The AP's Anne Peterson wrote RFK is "well-known in the soccer world as the site of men’s and women’s World Cup matches and was one of the venues used" for soccer during the '96 Atlanta Games. It has also "hosted three MLS Cup finals and a league All-Star game" (AP, 10/18).
HOME SWEET HOME: In DC, Steven Goff writes RFK has been the "unofficial home" of American soccer "for decades." The stadium "gained a mystique." It came from "not only longevity and quantity but the fact that, despite physical flaws acquired late in life, RFK had a heartbeat, a soul." The enclosed design "retained sound, turning the volume of 20,000 into the fury of 80,000." Navigating the concrete ramps, "walking through the claustrophobic concourse and crossing the catwalks into the upper reaches was a journey into yesteryear." United coach Ben Olsen said, "The soul is real." Next summer, United is "scheduled to christen Audi Field." However, United "isn't completely done with RFK." Until the club "builds a training facility, it will continue practicing on the outer fields and leasing the locker rooms and basement space." Only the front office will "permanently move into the new digs next spring." Non-MLS activities will "continue popping up in the old stadium, as well, until the 180-acre campus is redeveloped." FS1's Alexi Lalas, who was on USMNT teams that competed at RFK, said, "We know it’s dirty and disgusting and ugly, but it’s ours. It never compared to stadiums with all of the luxuries, but it was something authentic and organic" (WASHINGTON POST, 10/20).