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Monday, August 28, 2006


My First MLS Game, Part II: Physical Presence at the Game, or They Live (and are not weird ghosts in the TV)!

On Saturday August 26, in the year 2006, I attended the match at RFK Stadium in Washington DC between the best team in the MLS, DC United, and the worst team in the MLS, LA Galaxy. The game was DC United’s 24th regular season game (there are 32 regular season games, and during the season the team also plays “friendly” exhibition games and “U.S. Open Cup” games).
Midfield line, as seen from our seats - View from our seats (with zoom); the ones wearing red are DC United players - warm-up/practice uniforms.
DC United entered the game slumping, having not won a game in their last four regular season games (3 ties, 1 loss), but still had just 2 losses before their game against the LA Galaxy got under way. United would have set a record if they had ended the year with just 2 losses. What happened? They lost. To the worst team in the MLS. They lost badly, 5-2. The LA Galaxy scored first and early, with Alan Gordon scoring on the fourth minute. In the ninth minute the score became tied 1-1. No, United didn’t score. One Galaxy defender was trying to clear the ball in front of his own net, the ball slammed into another Galaxy defender and bounced into the net for a goal. The recap on the MLS website says that the Galaxy defender that scored on his own team was Chris Albright - but I’m not sure if that is the one that kicked the ball or the one that had the ball bounce off him into the net. Half, score 1-1.
Nationals Dugout - for those Nationals fans - that’s the Nationals dugout.
Albright scored another goal to lead off the second half (2 minutes in), but this time knocked the ball into DC United’s net. Galaxy lead 2-1 at that point, and never lost the lead after that. Landon Donovan scored a penalty kick in the 66th minute to give Galaxy it’s needed winning goal. Needed? Because DC United was able to score another goal when Facundo Erpen scored his third goal of the season in the 69th minute with an assist by Christian Gomez. Bryan Namoff then scored on his own team in the 71st minute to make the score 4-2, and Landon Donovan picked up his 2nd goal of the game to lead Galaxy to a 5-2 win. That goal came during the injury play.
DC United Mascot - DC United’s mascot.
Both Freddy Adu and Christian Gomez entered the game, but did not start due to injury. The team was overwhelmed by the play of Galaxy, which obviously means something is wrong, because a last place team should not have so dominated the game (DC United looked listless, and I would not be surprised if Nick Rimando took over as goal-keeper; remember three things: 1) Rimando is the higher paid, more experienced goalie, 2) Nowak likes to constantly change his goalies and his actions this year of allowing Perkins to start every game is unlike him, 3) Perkins played poorly in this game) . Oh, and DC United sure did get a lot of yellow cards in this game. Odd, didn’t realize until I looked at the recap, that both teams received the same number of yellow cards - three each.
On field reporter - On Field reporter.
The ninety minute game ended up taking 1 hour and 51 minutes to complete and did not start on time, but about 10 minutes late. The late start time was surprising. The 1:51 was not (90 minutes of play, 15 minute overtime and about 6 minutes of injury time).
LA Norte DC United supportes - La Norte Fan Clubs, during game - Screaming Eagles and Barra Brava
The large number of LA Galaxy fans was surprising and unexpected. The small number of La Norte fans was equally surprising. Screaming Eagles and Barra Brava, the other two DC United “supporters” were well represented. It just seems odd to see fans jumping up and down and screaming for ninety minutes without regard to the action on the field (the 5-2 loss).
From the seats, no zoom - View from our seats, no zoom (or what the naked eyeball sees).
Right - the non-MLS fan perceptive (or new fan, not sure yet): We had great seats in terms of position of the field - we sat on the mid-field line. Bad seats otherwise, because the seats were the last row of the lower seating area - against the wall. The overhanging upper deck blocked the view of the scoreboard and time clock (for all I know, there wasn’t an active scoreboard/minute clock). And every time I stood up, I lost sight of the field. United scores, I stand up excited and cheer - lose sight of the field. Not as important as when I had to stand up every five minutes for the other people in the row to enter and exit and I lose sight of the active game.
Ball in play - ball in play.
The game was interesting, and though I had an early impression that it might turn out to be somewhat similar to an in-person football (NFL) experience (in that I find it easier and more enjoyable to watch an NFL game on TV instead of in-person), I found that I had no problem following along and watch the little tiny ball bounce around. Tiny - well, if I ever attend another DC United event, I will want to sit much closer, some place where the players do not look so tiny.
Ugo Ihemelu goes for the ball - Ihemelu tries to score on his own goal (not really).
The game: I was and am annoyed that my first experience at a live MLS regular season game involved “my” team losing 5-2. Especially as they lost to the worst team in the MLS (both leagues). Of course, the Galaxy team is now not the worst team in the MLS after their win.
National Anthem2 - National Anthem.
Would I attend another MLS game? All the regular season games for the rest of the season, except for two (9/13 - Wednesday game @ New England, and 10/07 Saturday New England game - what’s the deal with not broadcasting New England games?) will be televised. None of the non-regular season games will be televised (both games are in the other team’s stadium). I will probably try to watch the rest of the season, but will likely not see another game in-person this season. The only game that I might decide to attend would be that 1 New England game at RFK on 10/07, since that one will not be televised on anything I can see. I will see if I can get into and be excited by the rest of this year’s games, and then make a decision on whether I add a third sport to watch (add to NFL, and MLB; I'll likely readd the NHL at some point, I was a causal fan, they had a strike, and I haven't seen a game since - the question is whether I readd the NHL as my third sport I watch, or my fourth).
GK puts ball back into play
Right, sorry that this is more of a recap of the game than a recap of my experiences.
Recap (as in a professional write up of the game).

If you could enjoy that game even a little bit, then you'll love them when they actually show up to play.

It looks like your seat was in a 300 section? I've been trying different spots, but I like the 100s and 200s much better - closer to the field, easier to see. Even the cheap $16 seats over in the corner are not too bad as long as you're close, and not up against the fence.

P.S. Most of that wasn't really Perkins' fault IMO. Waaaaay too many breakaway situations for him to have to deal with, and that is the defenders' fault.
Thanks for visiting.

Yes, I was in section 308, last row, on the aisle. Good seats for being directly on the midfield line, but I agree, bad seats for being so far away from the action. I requested the best seats available and the choice was either last row 308 or one of the Mezzanine seats (corner, I believe M29). I'll probably return to the game, and hope to get better seats.

As a new fan, I'll follow your lead on the Perkins situation.

Hopefully this comment will get through. Blogger is acting up and I can't get to the Blogger.com website most of the time. While I have nothing, really, to add today, I can't add anything even if I wanted to do so in a blog entry.
Great to see you get out to your first MLS game. Always interesting to hear the perspectives of new fans.

If you are ever interested in coming to another United game, there are plenty of United supporters that would be interested in picking up your ticket I'm sure. I definitely suggest trying a playoff match this year.
gutuna - thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Sorry for the delay in responding - comment kept getting swallowed by Blogger.

I realized that the United would more than likely be in the playoffs (not sure now if they would somehow not be in the playoffs), but I didn't connect the dots, so to speak. I completely forgot about how i might be able to attend the games in person. Attending a playoff game would be interesting. Last playoff game I attended was a Capitals game - great fun. Can't remember the year, might have been in the '90s.
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