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D.C. Soccer: Awards for the Best Sights, Sounds, and Smells of the Beautiful Game in 2013

Best Moment: Lewis Neal’s goal versus Real Salt Lake in the U.S. Open Cup

Having had the chance to watch this game live, the play itself came out of nowhere. United had very few opportunities in the first half to do anything. Matter of fact, this was their only shot on goal in the entire game. But the one thing that United had as an advantage is that Real Salt Lake was sleep walking through the entire first-half. So with very offensive options and playing a team that was very relaxed on defense, United did what every underdog does in a football: try and knock their opponent off-guard on a counter-attack. Lewis seems to have a penchant for the dramatic: it was his goal last year in the final home game of the season against the Columbus Crew that sent the team to the MLS Playoffs. Although he was injured for most of this season, it was this goal that gave D.C. United fans something to cheer for in an otherwise difficult season.

Honorable Mention: Maryland going on the road to defeat the University of California in the NCAA Men’s Elite Eight, Danielle Colaprico’s  go-ahead goal to put the Lady Cavaliers ahead of the University of Michigan in the Women’s NCAA Tournament, D.C. United New Stadium Announcement

Best Match: USA vs Germany (June 2nd 2013- R.F.K. Stadium)

Though not the prettiest game by any means (I still feel sorry for German Goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen’s dreadful own goal) this game was still the most important match to happen in this area in 2013. First, it set the United States up for an amazing summer. Everyone feels so good and happy about the U.S.A. but bear in mind before this match there was a lot of drama going on in the U.S. Camp. The snowmaggedon match Salt Lake City had helped soothe over some of the discontent in the locker, but they had also just been beaten pretty handily by Belgium just four days earlier. Plus, with World Cup Qualifying about to kick off again, America’s chance to go to Brazil was still very much up in the air. Though they were playing against a very green Germany team, the win helped galvanize the United States and put them on the path to winning the Gold Cup and clinching a spot for Brazil 2014.

Second, given that this was supposed to be the match commemorating the 100th anniversary of U.S. Soccer, the game itself had a big-game atmosphere to it. There is a reason why teams, both club and country, choose to continue to play exhibitions and friendlies at RFK Stadium: it is still one of the best stadiums to watch a soccer match in. And it is rich in soccer history. From the numerous MLS Cup and U.S. Open Cup Finals being hosted there, to being one of the hosts for the 1994 World Cup (and a stellar 1-1 draw between Italy and Mexico) to being host to the always entertaining/slightly violent El Salvador vs Honduras matches, RFK Stadium and Washington D.C. is still one of the best places to catch a football match.  

Honorable Mention: Honduras v Costa Rica (Gold Cup 2013) ACC Men’s Championship: Maryland vs Virginia, Chelsea versus Roma

Best Football Band: RDGLDGRN

Any band that chooses to spend their free time setting up pickup soccer games in Chantilly should automatically them a contender for the best soccer band. Hailing from Reston, Virginia, this 3 man band fuses area go-go with indie-rock and hip-hop that makes a sound that fits the D.C. Metro area to a t. Whether it is sporting a Manchester United jersey in their video, Million Fans, posting pictures of themselves juggling a soccer ball with Dave Grohl, or talking about their love of the FIFA video games, RDGLDGRN is a football band.

Oh and check out their new video, “Doing the Most.”

Best Beer: D.C. Brau, “The Tradition.”

How could we not go for a beer named after a soccer team?

Best Place to Watch a Match(Outside of the Stadium:) The Queen Vic (1206 H St. NE Washington D.C.,20002)

This is a tough one. One of the great things about living in a soccer-mad city like Washington D.C. Metro area is that there are so many great places to catch a match.  Depending on where you live, everyone has their favorite hangout, their favorite spot at the restaurant, and their favorite food/drink of choice.

Although many try restaurants and emulate the pub culture from England, one stands above all others. The Queen Vic, founded back in 2011 by Ryan Gordon and Kevin Bombardier, is a small English pub found in the bustling H St. Corridor. What makes this place so special is that it takes the atmosphere of an English pub and brings it directly into the United States. This is not a bar that is a sports bar that shows the occasional soccer match. If you are looking to watch D.C. United, the English Premier League, the U.S. Men’s National Team, or even games out of left field like a match from Serie A or Liga MX, this is the place to go.

The menu is virtually a “who’s who” of traditional English food from fish and chips to the full English breakfast to steak and eggs. There is also an expansive tap list that includes rare German, Belgian, and English beers. Finally, it is a family friendly atmosphere which means you can bring your kids and explain to them the finer points of the game.

Honorable Mention: Lucky Bar (Washington D.C.,) Biergarten Haus (Washington D.C.) Ireland’s Four Courts (Arlington, VA,) Slainte Pub (Baltimore, Md.)

Posted in D.C. Soccer, D.C. United, USMNT.