There was a time (not so very long ago, in fact) when RFK Stadium in the heart of Washington, D.C., was still among the nation’s top soccer facilities.
Yes, it was Spartan. And that’s being kind.
But even if the old lady came unadorned by the luxury suites and fancy concession areas, and even if there were critters living in the halls and walls, the place set up splendidly for soccer. And it had history, which surely counts for something.
Alas, history and all of the old facility’s “venerable-ness” now seems overmatched. More and more, the place is just an old stadium, relegated further down the pecking order every time an MLS owner erects the newest, latest and greatest ground. (I mean, seriously … have you taken a good look at Red Bull Arena or Sporting Park?) And RFK certainly won’t be in the U.S. international rotation forever.
Heck, D.C. United will get out of that place at the club’s earliest possible opportunity; they’ve been desperate for it for years.
But the ground that opened in 1961 does seem like an appropriate place for U.S. Soccer to throw its centennial celebration. So, let’s talk about RFK for a moment:
First, the gold standard trivia bit: RFK Stadium has hosted more United States men’s national team matches than any other venue.
When the United States and Germany kick off in the venerable old ground, that will be match No. 22 along East Capital Street. The LA Coliseum has hosted 21 (Uh, talk about old stadiums), the Orange Bowl and the Rose Bowl have hosted 16 each and Gillette Stadium has hosted 13.
In terms of atmosphere, RFK beats the heck out of those others.
Besides, the symbolic element of playing in the nation’s capital, just a few miles from the White House, a place named for a historic figure, counts for something. Just don’t stand around admiring the place to long – sometimes small bits of concrete break off the place and fall with a menace.
Courtesy of U.S. Soccer, here are a few more things you might like to know about the United States men’s national team and RFK ahead of tomorrow’s contest:
- The U.S. has played at RFK Stadium 21 times with a 13-3-5 all-time record.
- Seven of the matches have been FIFA World Cup qualifiers, and two came in the Gold Cup.
- Twenty-nine different U.S. players netted at least one goal at RFK Stadium in their National Team careers.
- Five players on the U.S. roster have scored at RFK Stadium: Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, Eddie Johnson and Jermaine Jones.
- Johnson became the first U.S. player in history to record a hat trick as a substitute when he scored three goals in the final 25 minutes of the USA’s 6-0 win against Panama on Oct. 13, 2004.
- Seven players have scored for the U.S. at RFK Stadium and also played with D.C. United during their careers: John Harkes, Roy Lassiter, Ben Olsen, Santino Quaranta, Tony Sanneh, Earnie Stewart and Roy Wegerle. DaMarcus Beasley, Donovan, Eddie Johnson, Cobi Jones and Stewart lead the U.S. with three goals each at RFK Stadium.