Power Outage Pushes United Match to Tonight

By Mark Viera
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A power outage at RFK Stadium forced yesterday's D.C. United game against the Houston Dynamo to be rescheduled for 7:30 tonight, marking the second time in United's 13-year history -- and the second time this season -- a home game has been postponed.

Yesterday's game was supposed to be the makeup of a June 4 game against Houston, which was suspended because of severe weather after 15 minutes of scoreless play. Tickets from June 4 or yesterday will be honored tonight.

The decision to postpone yesterday's game is believed to be the first time in RFK's 47-year history that a sporting event has been postponed because of a power shortage.

RFK and a nearby housing complex lost power early yesterday morning, Pepco spokesman Bob Hainey said, and the game was called because enough power could not be regained before the scheduled start time.

"It kind of takes you back to high school or something," United defender Devon McTavish said. "Back there, your games were getting canceled all the time for weather. Kind of interesting."

Houston (4-4-8) rescheduled its league game against United (7-7-1) for yesterday because of last week's SuperLiga tournament game. The teams played each other Saturday in tournament play -- Houston won, 3-1 -- but they have not yet met in MLS this season. The Dynamo has stayed at a hotel in downtown Washington since Friday, adding an extra night's stay because of yesterday's postponement.

"From what I was able to see in the team meal, they were little disappointed," Dynamo spokesman Lester Gretsch said. "They wanted to go home so we can get our legs back before the all-star break. It comes with the trade. It's things that happen, I guess."

For United, tonight's game will mark its return to league play. United was one of the MLS's hottest teams, but an intermission from the regular season -- two tournaments fractured the league schedule during the opening weeks of July -- slowed the team's momentum. Last night's game was supposed to be a chance for United to remedy its problems.

"We're ready to get the game over with, for sure," McTavish said.

Three main power lines feed RFK and the nearby Langston Terrace housing projects. One of those lines was powerless because it was undergoing maintenance and another of the lines lost power at 2:23 a.m., after which time the stadium lost power necessary to host an event. "You've got vendors in there, microwave ovens, popcorn, cotton candy and lights," Hainey said. "Those lights burn up a lot of juice."

Pepco workers had yet to fix the problem as of 7 last night.

Though it is the first time a United home game has been postponed because of electrical problems, it is not the first time lighting issues have affected one of its games at RFK. In 2000, a bank of lights at RFK malfunctioned during a United-Kansas City match, which was declared an official game after one scoreless half.

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