Major League Soccer turned to an old, reliable friend yesterday, naming RFK Stadium as the site for its Oct. 15 championship game.
Commissioner Don Garber and other league officials had preferred Tampa's Raymond James Stadium. However, Tampa organizers were unable to move an Oct. 14 college football game at that stadium until last month, and by that time, MLS's negotiations with the D.C. Sports Commission had advanced to the final stages.
"We worked very hard for this and I think we will put on a first-class show," said John Richardson, chairman of the sports commission, which oversees and operates RFK.
MLS's final decision to play the game at RFK was reported last week in The Washington Post and the Tampa Tribune. This will be the second time RFK has hosted MLS's title game. In 1997, a sellout crowd of 57,431 watched D.C. United defeat the Colorado Rapids in a heavy rainstorm. Foxboro (Mass.) Stadium also has hosted the final twice, in 1996 and 1999.
RFK is considered one of MLS's premier venues because of its moderate seating capacity and lack of scheduling conflicts with an NFL team. Next year's championship will be decided at Columbus Crew Stadium in Ohio. Tampa is considered the top candidate for the 2002 game. . . .
MLS has awarded its Spanish-language television rights to Telemundo, replacing Univision, which carried games in the league's first four seasons. Telemundo is available on only a few Washington area cable systems. . . .
United and the sports commission have resumed negotiations for the team to continue to play at RFK. The previous deal expired after last season. United officials want a one-year extension, but Richardson said the commission would prefer a long-term deal.
EXHIBITIONS: Lothar Matthaeus, who will join the New York/New Jersey MetroStars next month, set a men's world record by playing in his 144th international match for Germany yesterday. The Netherlands defeated Germany, 2-1, in Amsterdam. . . . Rivaldo, the 1999 world player of the year, scored twice in Brazil's 7-0 rout of Thailand in Bangkok. . . . England was held to a scoreless tie by Argentina at Wembley Stadium. . . . France edged visiting Poland, 1-0, on Zinedine Zidane's goal in the 88th minute. . . . Italy stopped visiting Sweden, 1-0, on Alessandro Del Piero's penalty kick in the 80th minute. . . . Robbie Keane's 87th goal lifted host Ireland over the Czech Republic, 3-2.
GOLD CUP: Colombia defeated Peru, 2-1, last night in San Diego to advance to Sunday's final in Los Angeles. Canada and Trinidad and Tobago play each other tonight.