#LastCallAtRFK: The District And D.C. United Fans Prepare To Close Out Stadium

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WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 26: DC United fans wave their banners during an MLS game on August 26, 2017, between DC United and the New England Revolution at RFK Stadium, in Washington DC. DC United defeated the New England Revolution 1-0. (Photo by Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Editorial (October 20, 2017) – This Sunday is Decision Day, the last match day of the 2017 MLS season. D.C. United will be playing their final match ever at RFK Stadium on Sunday, against Atlantic Cup rivals New York Red Bulls. Fans around the city and the league are getting ready for it in earnest.

#LastCallAtRFK: The District And D.C. United Fans Prepare To Close Out Stadium

Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium (RFK Stadium, for short) broke ground in the summer of 1960. It was construced for $24 million and opened October 1, 1961. With a modular design, it has hosted a number of different sporting events. It has played home to the Washington Redskins of the NFL, Washington Nationals of MLB, and a number of professional soccer teams.

It has been the home to MLS original and four time MLS Cup Champions, D.C. United since their inception. After 21 years, United are getting a new home, Audi Field. With that, after 56 years of service, the old venue is closing up shop.

Acknowledging History And Character:

Much like the old stadiums of other sports (Wrigley Field, the Rose Bowl, Madison Square Garden), RFK Stadium has been around so long, it has it’s a soul of sorts. It’s been host to so many events, and truly is a cathedral and museum (albeit a crumbling one) to American Soccer.

The stadium has been home to so many classic D.C. United and MLS memories since ’96. From the MLS Cups of the 1990’s, to trophy finals, to a sold out crowd for David Beckham, to the United States Men’s National team’s win over Germany in 2013.

The stadium and fan base also have it’s own inside jokes. There’s the Alecko Eskandarian “spitting Red Bull” skit, the joke about the stands being infested with raccoons. Then of course there’s the snarky chant “RFK is falling down” to the tune of ‘My Fair Lady.’

Supporter Groups Prepare:

Even in recent years with poor results on the field, D.C. United’s Supporters’ Groups have one of the most unique setups in MLS. They sit at the center line, not behind the goal, and they make the stands bounce. RFK is their home. It’s a dump, but it’s their dump. And they’re going to see it out in style.

Players And Coaches Wax Poetic:

Sunday will be emotional for more than just the fans. D.C. United Head Coach Ben Olson has spent much of his professional career at RFK Stadium, as a player and now as a Head Coach. As expected, he’s getting sentimental and teared up about it.

Goalkeeper Bill Hamid will not be returning to the club as he pursues opportunities in Europe. This club is also undergoing changes with the arrival of Paul Arriola. A number of players might not be back with the team as they move into their new stadium. They aren’t thinking about that right now. They’re focused on “going out with a bang,” as Nick DeLeon said.

Playing For Pride:

D.C. United will not be making the playoffs. They’ve had a pretty poor season, due to injuries and playing a number of young players. They are tied with LA Galaxy for the fewest points in MLS and have a chance to finish last in the league.

Last compared to second to last doesn’t mean much at this point. The team cares more about playing for pride and the Atlantic Cup, which they can win on Sunday. There is no tomorrow for D.C. United. There is no tomorrow for RFK Stadium. They’ve got nothing to lose, so they might as well go have some fun and pound a rival into the ground.

If that doesn’t get you pumped up for #LastCallAtRFK, nothing will. See you Sunday, you crumbly sentimental stack of concrete, steel, and memories.

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