My Farewell to RFK, Next Stop Buzzard Point

Caitlin Buckley

Whew. The last game was more emotional for me that I thought it would be. Soaking in the sights and sounds was nostalgic of the early championship years at RFK. Seeing the legends put on a show made me giddy. Hearing the drum of Salvatore heightened the drama on the field. "BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, DC UNITED." The eventual outcome was disappointing, but the good feeling of the gritty soul emanating from the old hulk of a stadium was exhilarating.

Final Season Tickets 2017 v2

The first half reminded me of the early days at RFK stadium. The team was moving the ball and creating chances. New York was under pressure the entire half, and finally conceded a goal. They had one shot and really no chances. With the large boisterous crowd of over 40,000, the feeling really was that the Red Bulls had no chance. Having just watched Moreno, Etcheverry and Emilio do their magic in a very entertaining Legend’s game, I thought that nothing could prevent the team from victory, a feeling reminiscent of the early days.

The second half reminded me of DC United’s more recent form. The team really loses composure at times. Olsen has said that the team is fragile, a good description of the 2nd half. DC United were not dictating play, but instead were chasing the Red Bulls all over the field. Then a few dinky little passes and a combination of mistakes by players leads to 2 goals. Then a missed forearm shiver and a kickout followed by a red card assured DC United’s fate had been sealed. In a game with atrocious missed calls by the center referee, the team let it get to them and conceded the advantage to the Red Bulls. The team cracked like the old concrete in aging RFK Stadium.

But nothing could take away from the memories of both the first half and the old magic in a relic of the 1960s. Soccer was not born at RFK. It was not even supposed to be played in the venue. And the old school feeling of the place will not be reflected in Audi Field just a few miles away at Buzzard Point. DC United will have to carve out a new identity in a bustling corner of Washington. It will be a new experience with bars and restaurants replacing tailgates. Communications will keep social media buzzing like a modern bee hive instead of stopping and starting like a cranky car in heavy traffic. Walks from Metro with flags waving past Nationals Park and down stately avenues will replace the walk through a dank tunnel to RFK. Bikes will be parked in proper stands and even a dedicated valet room instead of chained to old rusty fences. The inviting front of the new stadium will encourage fans to linger and contemplate great views of two stadiums and the surrounding hum of a retail streets.

For a while the hollow sounds of RFK will linger in memory, but the team will no longer be living in the shadow of past trophies and accomplishments. The eagles will replace the buzzards looking down on a new jewel in Washington. The first DC United team at RFK started from nothing and became the best in MLS. The new stadium is rising like a phoenix in an area of the city previously known for cement plants and junk yards. With a new brick here and a new brick there, the current team also can rise from the ashes of the 2017 season. The strong foundation of excellence that existed at the historic RFK Stadium and faded in later years can be rekindled with an infusion of energy and talent. New planning and investments are already changing the face of Buzzard Point, waking it up from its industrial slumber. DC United’s team can mimic this approach to embrace new traditions and an era of excellence and excitement both on and off the field.

Driving up old RFK gave views of the majestic stadium in the background as fans gathered to have fun and await the game. I took the video below in 2011, when you could drive up to the stadium on the Anacostia Freeway (295). View and relive the moment, because It is now the stuff of nostalgia.

Relive Approaching and Entering RFK Stadium in 2011 to Cheer DC United

Farewell old friend. Let the old good times be passed on to memory banks. As the old faint echoes of the past die out, the new good times will roll in a vibrant part of the city where circling buzzards who once ruled the day are giving way to the flight of eagles.

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