Wednesday, July 03, 2019

DC United Field Trip

One of my favorite topics to write about on Sean’s Ramblings has been attending live sports events and concerts. From Max Scherzer’s no-hitter (and nearly perfect game) to Fleetwood Mac and Paul McCartney shows to my hockey road trips, it’s fun to look back at events I’ve attended over the years.

Last week, I received an email from DC United informing me that I won two tickets to its game against Toronto FC. I won these tickets from their booth at Celebrate Fairfax, proving again that I made a fantastic decision to take my two older kids to the festival despite a little rain. With eight year old The Moose set to go to a friend’s birthday party, I decided to take five year old Pedro Tulo with me. I knew that this would bring some challenges, but that he would also enjoy going. Unlike The Moose who could (and has) sit in his seat at a live sporting event for hours, Pedro Tulo needs to move around. Plus, I figured that an 8:00 PM kickoff would not be ideal for him. I was right.

Let’s get to DC United for a second. The team started in 1995 when Major League Soccer formed and has been the second most successful team in league history, winning 4 MLS titles. Granted, most of those titles occurred in the 90s, but they still count. I attended a few games over the years at crumbling RFK Stadium, but this was my first time at Audi Field which opened last summer. Let's just say WOW!

I’ve been to soccer specific stadiums in Columbus, Ohio and New Jersey, but Audi Field just blows them away. The stadium in Portland is the only one I’ve been to that rivals this, but I only saw a portion of the stadium in Portland as it wasn't open to the public. (If the Portland Timbers or Portland Thorns want to fly me and my family out on an all-expenses paid trip to Portland to get a full comparison between the two, please contact my agent. Of course I don’t have an agent, so just contact me. Maybe fellow Pittsburgh native Meghan Klingenberg can hook me up!) I don’t think there’s a bad seat in house at Audi Field. As you can probably tell from some of the pictures above, we were in the southern end of the stadium right above the corner flag.

Props to the Kind people for giving out free bars outside the stadium! Props to Audi Field staff for letting people bring the free bars into the stadium!

After having the Kind bars and about 10 minutes into the game, Pedro Tulo decided he wanted something else to eat. There were some good options including food like pupusas and arepas that you usually don't see at concession stands. Naturally, Pedro Tulo requested pizza. Since he had pizza for dinner about 2 hours earlier, I said no. He decided on popcorn. Then, as soon as we got in line, he wanted a soft pretzel instead. Despite all of the appetizing food including options curated by famed chef José Andrés, the soft pretzel was below average and that's being generous. Before the end of the half, Pedro Tulo decided to launch a small piece of the pretzel several rows in front of us. I scolded him and made sure not to make eye contact with anyone in front of us. The last thing I wanted to hear during my first trip to Audi Field was, “Sir, please come with us.”

Of course, we missed Toronto scoring a goal during our time getting food as well as Wayne Rooney having an amazing opportunity to score but pushing the shot just high and wide.

DC United watered the field at halftime. I've never seen this before. Is this normal?

There is no parking at the stadium. The team encourages you to take Metro or drive and park using the SpotHero app. While I would normally take Metro (which is still a good 1/2 mile walk from the stadium), I knew this wouldn’t be a good option for Pedro Tulo because it would be crowded and probably an hour-long Metro ride starting around 10:00 PM. Besides it being so late, the bigger issue was that Pedro Tulo was still in a temporary cast from breaking two bones in his left arm recently. I didn't want to take a chance of him possibly re-injuring his arm by getting bumped on a crowded Metro train.

At the 58th minute (9:25 PM), Pedro Tulo turned to me and said that he was tired and wanted to go home. While I felt safe around the stadium, there are always people asking for money outside any sporting events, so I didn’t particularly want to walk the 1/2 mile or so back to the car by ourselves. Over the next 20-25 minutes, we walked towards the stadium entrance/exit with stops at the restroom and clubhouse store where he really wanted to buy a Christmas tree ornament, the perfect souvenir from a late June game. (I didn’t buy one.)

I've decided there should be a rule in sports. If you have naming rights to a stadium, then you also need to give away your product to the fans. In this case, one person should win an Audi at each game. Seems reasonable to me!

Wayne Rooney didn’t score a goal from 70 yards away like he did in preceding DC United game. Doesn't something like this happen in every soccer match?

I can say, though, that I saw Rooney play in person and was at a game where he scored a goal. Granted, I didn't see the goal, but we heard the roar of the crowd from about two blocks away from the stadium and a second one about a minute later. (It turned out that the first roar was for a VAR call awarding DC United a penalty kick. The second roar was for Rooney converting said kick.) Here's proof that I saw Rooney on the field via this somewhat blurry photo.

I did not, however, see Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore play for Toronto as they are away playing for the US national team at the Gold Cup.

The best name on DC United is clearly Frederic Brillant. Guinness even had an entire advertising campaign a few years ago in his honor.

I find it very cool that many soccer teams have sections for its most passionate supporters. I don't know if it's the team's supporter club Barra Brava or Screaming Eagles or both, but the people in the section on the opposite side from where I sat stood, chanted, and waved flags the entire match.

Who do these Toronto fans think they are taking pictures of themselves? Actually, they are Toronto fans thinking about celebrating an early Canada Day during halftime. That's who they think they are!

Finally, here are highlights from the game and recaps from DC United and The Washington Post

Looking forward to going to another DC United game at Audi Field soon. Maybe for an afternoon game!

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