- No tailgating allowed at Super Bowl XLVIII
- Pentagon to transport African troops to Central African Republic
- Chinese man fed up with his girlfriend’s shopping jumps to his death
- Ukraine leader to talk with protesters; Washington urges caution
- Pope Francis: A nun saved my life
- Israeli P.M. Netanyahu backs out of Mandela funeral
- Elian Gonzalez makes first trip outside Cuba since custody battle
- U.S., British intelligence agents enter online sci-fi world to spy on gamers
- Sarah Palin to host the outdoors show ‘Amazing America’
- CIA admits $3 billion intelligence operation was a flop
Dick Heller: RFK’s team worth watching
For traditionalist D.C. sports fans, showing up at RFK Stadium for D.C. United’s game Sunday against the Los Angeles Beckhams could have been an act of the sheerest heresy.
A couple of miles farther south on I-295, the Nationals were cavorting, if that’s the word, against the Orioles in what promoters call the Battle of the Beltways although neither traffic loop passes Nationals Park or Camden Yards.
Soccer instead of baseball, on a day when the heat and humidity of late June was terrible for the former and just right for the latter?
Well, why not? After all, D.C. United, with four Major League Soccer titles and assorted other trophies in display cases, is the biggest winner this town has known since the Redskins stopped collecting Super Bowl championships.
Of the Nats, it could be said they had appeared for every one of their 82 games this season. Other positive factors were difficult to discern.
In the fourth season of its existence, this patty-cake outfit was 18 games under .500, principally because eight of the nine Opening Night starters, plus closer Chad Cordero, had donated substantial time to the disabled list.
Center fielder Roger Bernadina - wasn’t that the name of an old Pat Boone movie? - was making his major league debut, and his .000 batting average fit right in with the likes of Willie Harris (.186), Kory Casto (.209) and Wily Mo Pena (.215), plus dugout onlookers Paul Lo Duca (.194) and Ronnie Belliard (.205).
Austin Kearns is expected back off the DL any day now, but his .187 average does not suggest he will be a savior. When it comes to swinging, these Nats and their team average of .238 are baseball’s version of Lawrence Welk.
So RFK and the sport known as football everywhere else was a reasonable alternative on a day when superstar Beckham was in town, even if glamorous wife Posh Spice was a no-show.
Soccer venues, of which RFK now exclusively is, take some getting used to. Advertising boards encircle the pitch, and in the end zone near what used to be home plate Volkswagen has erected a blue building in which fans can play interactive games and perhaps even buy a Beetle. This is only logical because the German automaker now is an official sponsor of D.C. United, with players sporting on their shirts VW logos that dwarf the team name.
For non-soccer aficionados, a sign posted in the stands by members of the Screaming Eagles Fan Club was puzzling: “Shouldn’t you be in Austria?” This, a man explained, was a sly dig at Britisher Beckham because England shockingly had failed to qualify for the finals of Euro ‘08, whose championship game was being held the same day in Vienna, Austria.
Beckham was not noticeably disturbed by the signage, but neither did he display much of the flash that has made him the world’s most famous soccer player as United romped to a lopsided 4-1 victory before 35,979 presumably delighted spectators. This achievement stretched D.C.’s unbeaten streak to six matches after a 2-7 start, and now this third-place club is looking like a challenger for another Eastern Conference and league crown.
United now has averaged a respectable 20,767 for eight MLS games at old RFK, and there’s no telling how much a new, soccer-specific stadium near Nationals Park might increase attendance. Unfortunately, plans for such a facility at Poplar Point have run afoul of corporate and governmental delays - which has been known to happen before in the capital of the free world.
Thus, until United gets its own home, the club will remain a minor if successful player on the D.C. sports scene. Forty years after the old Washington Whips came to town from Aberdeen, Scotland, in the highly hyped and short-lived original North American Soccer League, it remains unclear what the ceiling is for pro soccer here and in the rest of the United States.
If you come from a country where the game is king or if you or your children played it here, chances are you love soccer - its power, beauty and relative simplicity.
About the Author
- HELLER: Peering into a cracked crystal ball
- HELLER: Jack Pardee a class act during his days in D.C.
- HELLER: Stability is why ACC basketball became a power
- HELLER: Instead of swinging, Eddie Yost just walked away
- HELLER: Not to worry, Nationals' rise is just starting
Latest Blog Entries
By Brahma Chellaney
Beijing's creeping aggression signals a challenge to U.S. presence in the Asian Pacific
- CURL: Obama tells a whopper on IRS scandal
- WOLF: The president's other Obamacare lies
- Tech companies call for an end to NSA online snooping
- Obama lied about Syrian chemical attack, 'cherry-picked' intelligence: report
- Ted Cruz sees legal landmines ahead for Obamacare
- Lawmakers see 'false narrative' of Obama as a terrorist fighter
- Chinese man fed up with his girlfriend's shopping jumps to his death
- MSNBC host: Obamacare a 'wealthy white men' racist word
- Satanists petition for statue at Oklahoma Statehouse
- MILLER: Brady Campaign says Colorado recalls due to NRA, not grassroots opposition to gun control
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Brazen, leading-edge, “call it like it is” columns and reporting from Ohio native, radio host and writer, Sara Marie Brenner.
Let’s talk about everything, especially the absurdity of it all
Find the latest news and happening that effect those in the Washington D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland Metro region.
Never apologetic. Never afraid. Lieutenant Colonel Allen B. West joins Communities to bring tales from the biggest Foxhole of them all, the one inside the Beltway.
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow