Last Sunday, Brendan and I and some friends went to the Gold Cup matches at RFK. First was USA vs Jamaica; second was El Salvador vs Panama. We had some seriously awesome seats. Row 9. Between midfield and the 18. 

We planned to arrive at Lot 8 at about noon to tailgate, pickup our tickets and relax prior to the 3pm start. By the time we got to the entrance from 395, the police had blocked it off. That meant we had to cross the river, take 295, cross back over the river, go in the Benning Road entrance, call my brother who has experience getting to Lot 8 from Maryland (for DC United matches), go around RFK and finally make it to Lot 8 (it’s the best for tailgating). 

The party was in full gear. 

Tickets were sold out, and of the 45,000 fans that filled RFK, the vast majority – it felt like 40,000 – were Salvadoran fans. They know how to have a good time. It was a sea of blue. After grilling and hanging out we made our way into the stadium and to our (did I mention they were awesome) seats.

We’ve been to a lot of matches, but I think it was the closest we have been. It was a really great time. A lot of cheering and yelling and bouncing. At half time, Brendan went to get some beverages and came back with a photo of himself and Stu Holden. JEALOUS! 

It was really great to see the US put in such a quality (and hard) effort for the full 90 minutes. 

We were having so much fun, we decided to stick around for part of the second match. As a good portion of US fans departed the lower bowl, Salvadoran fans filled in. The stadium erupted as they sang their national anthem. It was really moving. 

In the end, we stayed for most of the first half, but decided that we should leave early as it’d be a crazy scene either way. If El Salvador won it’d be jubilant and if they lost (as it turned out they did lose in PKs) still a crush. 

As we drove down the access road to 395, it became clear as to why they had closed the entrance. There were cars parked along the sides everywhere, and in every direction. Clearly, had we stayed, it would have been quite a mess trying to get out. We made it home in time to watch extra time and the penalty kicks. 

Needless to say, it was awesome. (Salvadorans know how to party!)

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Brendan joined the party on January 2, 2004. He's cool now.

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