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United Force

(Toni L. Sandys - The Washington Post)

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By David Montgomery
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Inside the hurricane that is sections 135, 136 and 137 of RFK Stadium during D.C. United soccer games, the heavens rain beer. Plump, silver drops of Bud shimmering against the black sky.

Then comes the thunder. Thump-thump, thump-thump-THUMP! That's drum talk for D.C., U-ni-TED! erupting from a percussion section of snares, bongos and a big bass drum.

And now the very earth seems to quake. The metal bleachers rumble, shake, bounce, until the sections become a kind of 2,500-square-foot trampoline.

The team has just scored against the Los Angeles Galaxy.

In sections 135, 136 and 137 -- the field-level home of a fan group called la Barra Brava, Spanish for "brave fans" -- Chico and Duffman and Oscar "el Jefe" are howling themselves hoarse, jeering the sidelined David Beckham. Scruggs needs a beer. Bill Pow, beer man to the Barra, scoops dripping bottles out of his tub, no longer bothering with the soggy cash; he'll collect the tab later. Tom Faulkner pounds the bass drum in an ecstatic trance, grinning around the stub of his cigar.

And Srdan the Croatian flagmaker stands balanced precariously on the slippery armrests of a seat, his back to the field, savagely conducting the Barra to even greater peaks of emotion.

Up go the flags! Not wimpy little triangular sports-team pennants. No, they are car-dealership-size, on long poles, in United colors of black, red and white.

And finally, the stately, boozy chorus of nearly 400 voices, surprisingly melodic, given the setting:

Vamos, vamos, United

Esta noche, tenemos que ganar

Which means:

Let's go, let's go, United


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© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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