When reflecting on his time spent at historic RFK Stadium as both a player and a coach, one night in particular stands out for Ben Olsen—the 2004 Eastern Conference Final against the New England Revolution. In one of the most exciting matches in Major League Soccer history, D.C. United defeated the Revs at RFK en route to their fourth MLS Cup.
In front of a raucous crowd of more than 20,000, the Black-and-Red put on an inspirational offensive performance, spearheaded by goal scorers Alecko Eskandarian, Jaime Moreno, and Christian Gomez. In the 11th minute, Eskandarian, who would later be named the 2004 MLS Cup MVP, beat a Revs defender to a loose ball and launched a shot past an outstretched Matt Reis that rang off the right post to open the scoring.
United struck again 10 minutes later when Moreno adeptly curled a ball just inside the left post, and added a third score as Gomez headed in a cross from Earnie Stewart in the 67th minute. The Revs held serve, though, responding to each United goal with one of their own, ending with Pat Noonan’s equalizer in the 85th minute to force extra time.
Ben Olsen played the entirety of the match and was tabbed as United’s first shooter in the decisive penalty kick shootout by then head coach Piotr Nowak.
“Drama, penalty kicks, it had a little bit of everything,” Olsen remembered of the match. “It was probably, I think, the greatest game that has been played on this field.”
Santino Quaranta, Freddy Adu, Eskandarian and Brian Carroll converted their PKs, and goalkeeper Nick Rimando made two saves, including the match-clinching stop on rookie Clint Dempsey in the sudden death round to give the Black-and-Red one of their most memorable wins in franchise history.