RFK Stadium appears on the verge of being selected the site for two major soccer events this year.
While Major League Soccer officials are prepared to announce that the Oct. 15 championship game will be awarded to Washington, the U.S. Soccer Federation is about to chose RFK for a U.S.-South Africa men's national team match in June, sources said yesterday.
South Africa, which until 1992 was banned from playing internationally because of apartheid policies, has never played in the United States. The match here would serve as the opener of the four-team U.S. Cup tournament, June 3-11 at various sites on the East Coast.
A USSF source said the U.S. team's other tournament games would be played in Foxboro, Mass. (against Ireland) and at Giants Stadium outside of New York (against Mexico). An announcement is expected within two weeks.
Organizers initially thought they wouldn't be able to play a game in Washington because of scheduling conflicts at RFK, and instead were considering a U.S. game at the Baltimore Ravens' PSINet Stadium. But a proposed concert at RFK featuring country star George Strait was moved to Baltimore, opening the date for soccer.
The U.S. team, coached by Fairfax's Bruce Arena, played at RFK last summer, upsetting world power Argentina, 1-0. South Africa, which like the United States was eliminated in the first round of the 1998 World Cup in France, is ranked second in Africa (behind Morocco) and 30th in the world; the Americans are 22nd.
Meantime, RFK seems all but set to host the MLS title game in the fall.
"As far as we're concerned, it's our game," a D.C. government source said.
RFK became the front-runner last week when Tampa, the other finalist, was unable to clear the schedule at Raymond James Stadium to host the game. The MLS final also was held in Washington in 1997, when D.C. United defeated the Colorado Rapids before more than 57,000 spectators--a league postseason record.
MLS spokesman Dan Courtemanche said no decision about the title game has been made.
United Notes: Stephen Zack, the club's senior vice president, has emerged as a top candidate to become the Columbus Crew's general manager. Zack, who has been with the club since its inception, said he didn't want to comment.
Former Washington World Cup and Olympic official Emilio Pozzi also is a candidate.