Today I fulfilled a lifelong dream: attending an international soccer match. Even greater was that it was between the United States, my home country, and Germany, the country of my ancestors (at least on my dad’s side). While this isn’t related to my work with international law, it was nonetheless a very international experience.
My day actually started heading away from the game. I was meeting up with some friends at their place in Rosslyn that morning before we were going to head to the match. As I waited for the metro I could already see people in U.S. and Germany jerseys on the opposite train headed toward the stadium. Seeing them made me even more anxious to get to the game and be part of the spectacle. After hanging out at my friends’ place for a bit, we began our journey to RFK stadium. The metro was packed with people going to the game like us, with a good mix of both U.S. and German fans. As we drew nearer, and began our walk from the metro stop to the stadium itself, I started to realize how international the environment actually was. This may seem like an obvious statement, but leading up to the game I was expecting a lot of American fans, and a lot of German fans who were actually German-Americans but were supporting their ancestral home. On the contrary, however, the metro and streets were packed with German fans who, based on their conversations in fluent German, were legitimately German. As I sported my Clint Dempsey jersey, my friends and I joined in the U.S.A. chants, beginning to embrace the environment that we were a part of.
Because of the long line at will-call in which we had to wait to get our tickets, we were a few minutes late getting into the stadium. The game had already begun, so we hurried around the stadium to try and get to our seats before we missed anything. Unfortunately for us as individuals, but lucky for us as U.S. fans, it didn’t take long for Jozy Altidore to score and put the U.S. up (despite my own predictions that the Germans would be out of our class). As I heard the roar, I quickly ran through the nearest tunnel to be able to see the field and what had happened. Since there is no jumbo-tron in RFK, I didn’t get to see a replay of the goal, but the people around me told me what had happened. I excitedly joined in the cheers. As play resumed, my friends and I resumed our hurried walk to our seats. Just as we saw our section number, another roar erupted from the stadium. Germany had scored an own-goal and the U.S. was up 2-0! I couldn’t believe how the game had started. Any disappointment I might have had at missing the goals was drowned out by my surprise and sheer excitement that the U.S. was leading 2-0 already. Breathless, I finally reached my seat, giving me a chance to sit down and take in what was going on.
The game, for the most part, would continue to be just as crazy and action-packed as the opening. Germany scored to make it 2-1 before halftime, scoring in the goal right below our seats (unfortunately, because of the way RFK is built, we couldn’t actually see the goal). While this did little to dishearten myself or the other U.S. fans, it did bring to life the German fans around us, specifically some German girls in the row behind us who were about our same age. Although my friends and I were yet to see one of the goals actually go in, Clint Dempsey rectified that for us in the second half. The captain, whose jersey I was sporting, would grace us with two great goals, making all the missed goals worth it. Now, not only had we seen two excellent strikes for goals, but the U.S. had a 4-1 lead. The game was far from over, though, and anyone who counts the Germans out early is bound to regret it. True to form, Germany would score twice in the last ten minutes of the game and put the entire stadium on edge. The U.S. team was able to hold on though, and as my friends and I left the stadium, I snapped a picture of the scoreboard to memorialize our 4-3 victory. We left the stadium as part of a sea of people in a jovial atmosphere. Not only had I fulfilled a lifelong dream in seeing the U.S. play Germany in an international soccer match, the game had been everything I could have asked for and more. While Washington D.C. may be the capital of the U.S., offering amazing opportunities to experience American culture and history, this day it offered me an unforgettable, international experience.