- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 29, 2002

What home field advantage?
D.C. United coach Ray Hudson has seen a lot in all his years in soccer, but tonight's match against the Los Angeles Galaxy at RFK Stadium undoubtedly will be a first for Hudson when thousands of local fans openly root against his team.
"I'll be pleased to stuff it down their throats, whoever is coming to root for the other team," Hudson said. "I've been told that's usually the case here. We've got to win those cynics over, because that's what I regard them as, cynical people, if that's the way they are and can't get behind the color of the hometown team."
Unfortunately, national pride carries more weight than United does for many fans. Every year when the Galaxy come to town, thousands show up to cheer on midfielder Mauricio Cienfuegos, a Salvadoran national icon. At the beginning of the week, United already had sold 15,000 tickets and expects a large walk-up crowd tonight. Last year for this game, more than 9,000 tickets were sold the day of the game.
"They come out for everybody else, and when D.C. plays well they get annoyed and it's their local team," United defender Ryan Nelsen said. "It's crazy. This is the only country that it ever happens."
United (5-6-1) also can expect a large contingent to support Guatemalan forward Carlos Ruiz of the Galaxy (6-5-2). Ruiz, who is tied for second in Major League Soccer with 10 goals, is in his first season in MLS. He erupted onto the scene early in the season but has gone scoreless in his last three matches.
In United's season-opening loss at Los Angeles on March 23, Ruiz scored both goals in the Galaxy's 2-1 win.
"[Ruiz] adds spice to the pot," Hudson said. "We've got some nice Central American and South American players. It's all theater and melodrama."
Not in the stands it isn't. During a game against the now-defunct Tampa Bay Mutiny at RFK on Aug.8, 1999, an Arlington resident was stabbed in the back. No one was arrested or charged. That night a crowd of 18,754 turned out to watch Salvadoran forward Raul Diaz Arce, another national soccer legend.
Earlier that year, on April 19, supporters of the San Jose Clash with whom Diaz Arce played at the time fought with United fans leaving the stadium. There were reports of broken bottles being wielded and an inadequate number of security guards to defuse the problem.
In addition, seat-hopping was rampant, and there were numerous instances of fans being pelted with debris and beer.
Tonight's match is the second annual Hispanic Heritage Festival at RFK. Last year, 23,704 turned out and promptly booed the national anthem before the game. This event features music, food and contests throughout the afternoon, with the game capping off the festivities.
The Cienfuegos supporters may be disappointed tonight. Galaxy coach Sigi Schmid benched Cienfuegos in last Saturday's 3-0 win over the Dallas Burn and all indications are that Schmid is going to keep the same lineup for United. With Cienfuegos on the bench, there might not be such a hostile atmosphere for United in this one.
"It's no big deal for me it will be a new experience," Hudson said. "I'll probably hate it, but that will make [victory] all the more sweeter."

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