Blue Beats Red in Congressional Soccer Game
Democrats win, 5-3, with second-half outburst
On a rainy Tuesday evening in Washington, Democrats won the Congressional Soccer Game but Republicans won the cheering section.
The men and women in blue, with four members of Congress on their team, took home the trophy at the fifth annual Capitol Soccer Classic’s congressional game, 5-3.
Freshman Rep. Ruben Kihuen of Nevada, who was once invited to try out for a professional team in Mexico only to have those plans derailed by an injury, scored one of his team’s goals and had two assists.
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While staffers cheered on their bosses, the lone lawmaker cheering on the sidelines was Illinois Republican Rep. John Shimkus.
“I’m supporting my roommate, Erik Paulsen, and Darin LaHood from Illinois,” Shimkus said. “I had a free night, so I thought it would be a fun thing to do.”
The congressman was at baseball practice at 6 a.m. Tuesday, for next month’s Congressional Baseball Game, and stood out at the 6:30 p.m. soccer game at RFK stadium in a suit and under an umbrella.
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The other members on the Republican team were Reps. Don Bacon of Nebraska, Gus Bilirakis of Florida, and Steve Knight and David Valadao of California.
For the Democrats, playing alongside Kihuen were Reps. Suzanne Bonamici of Oregon, Kathy Castor of Florida and Rick Larsen of Washington.
“I haven’t played in a long time and it was fun. It was pretty evenly matched,” Larsen said after the game.
“I’m from Washington State. It didn’t rain once during the game,” the nine-term lawmaker joked while the rain continued to pour down.
Every player walked out onto the field for the national anthem holding hands with a child who benefits from the U.S. Soccer Foundation, which hosted the event. The same children played a short game during halftime.
After Democrats took an early 1-0 lead, the Republicans tied it around 11 minutes in.
Both teams played all their members, which included staffers and former professional soccer players, evenly during the 36-minute match.
Play picked up in the second half when the Republicans scored twice within the first four minutes to take a 3-1 lead, then the Democrats came back with three straight goals to take a 4-3 lead.
The blue team scored its fifth goal about five minutes before the end of the match.
Before the Congressional Soccer Game, there was a tournament for people who work in D.C. embassies, and it was followed by a staffer tournament.