Arguably the first home for soccer in the United States, RFK Stadium has seen decades of history in the sport, from the Washington Diplomats to the Washington Spirit, from USMNT and USWNT shockers to the likes of Ronaldinho and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. As the Black-and-Red prepare to bid farewell to their original home on East Capitol Street, we look back at what could be considered the 10 best D.C. United moments in the historic venue.
1996 home opener
In the first-ever Black-and-Red match at RFK and the first-ever meeting between two of MLS’ most storied franchises, the Los Angeles Galaxy topped D.C. United in their home opener. Despite the loss, United history was made as Raul Diaz Arce beat goalkeeper Jorge Campos for the first goal in club history.
1996 U.S. Open Cup championship
Ten days after claiming the inaugural MLS Cup, United defeated the A-League’s Rochester Rhinos 3-0 at RFK to capture the 1996 U.S. Open Cup championship. The Black-and-Red received goals from Raul Diaz Arce, Eddie Pope and Jaime Moreno, and became the first club to win both titles, known as the American “double”, in the same year.
1997 MLS Cup
In another pair of firsts, United became the first team to repeat as MLS Cup champions and the first to win an MLS Cup on home soil. In front of a record-breaking crowd of 57,431 fans, the Black-and-Red edged the Colorado Rapids behind the strong play of Man-of-the-Match recipient Jaime Moreno.
1998 match against Vasco da Gama
RFK hosted the first leg of the 1998 Copa Interamericana, pitting United against Brazilian club CR Vasco da Gama. In a tightly-contested match, United lost but held the South American representatives to just one goal, setting the stage for a 2-0 second-leg win over the South Americans in Fort Lauderdale to capture the title in the tournament’s final edition, adding to their quickly-growing trophy case.
1998 CONCACAF Champions’ Cup
The Black-and-Red trounced the competition at the 1998 CONCACAF Champions’ Cup, winning all three of their matches by a combined score of 11-0. The two-time reigning MLS Cup champions knocked off Club Toluca 1-0 thanks to an Eddie Pope goal, proving United to be the premier club team in the CONCACAF region.
1999 Eastern Conference Final
Vying for their third MLS Cup in four years, United took on the Columbus Crew in an exhilarating best-of-three conference final. The Black-and-Red played host for matches one and three, surviving a late surge in the initial game, then capitalizing on their immense home-field advantage with a 4-0 victory in the decisive match.
2004 Eastern Conference Final
With a trip to the MLS Cup on the line, United and the New England Revolution exchanged thrilling goals for 90+ minutes, leading to a penalty kick shootout. In the sudden-death round, Brian Carroll fired his attempt into the top left corner and goalkeeper Nick Rimando made the match-clinching save en route to United’s fourth league championship.
2007 David Beckham MLS debut
The English star entered the match as a substitute in the 72nd minute for the Galaxy, officially registering his first MLS appearance at RFK against United. Beckham’s much-anticipated debut was not enough for the visitors to overcome a one-goal deficit, though, as the Black-and-Red rode Luciano Emilio’s lone strike to a 1-0 victory.
2008 U.S. Open Cup championship
United claimed their second U.S. Open Cup title at their home stadium in 2008, defeating the Charleston Battery of the USL First Division 2-1. Fred scored the game-winning goal in the 50th minute, giving the Black-and-Red yet another major tournament victory at RFK.
2012 Lewis Neal 91st minute goal v. Columbus
Looking to snap a franchise-long five-year playoff drought, United needed a win in the season’s final regular season game to qualify for playoffs. With the match tied entering stoppage time, Chris Korb launched a ball over midfield that eventually found the foot of Lewis Neal, who put it past a hard-charging Columbus goalkeeper to send the Black-and-Red back to the postseason and RFK into a frenzy.