D.C. United will host storied English side Nottingham Forest in a midweek friendly Wednesday night. Forest are stateside as they prepare for the 2004-05 season in England's First Division. The match, scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff, is a reunion of sorts for United midfielder Ben Olsen.
Olsen, who was yesterday named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team, played with Nottingham Forest on loan from D.C. United for the first part of Forest's 2000-2001 season. The tenacious midfielder made an immediate impact in the side, sparking talk of a full-time transfer.
Unfortunately, a fractured ankle would end his loan and the ensuing transfer rumors. Recovery from the injury kept him out of the lineup for the entire 2001 MLS season.
"There's some excitement there," said Olsen of the reunion. "It will be nice, but a little strange at first to see that uniform. It was a great experience while I was there."
RFK Stadium will again play host to MLS's mid-season classic. The 2004 Sierra Mist All-Star Game will be held on Saturday, July 31. The match will have a distinctly United feel to it, as six members of the Black-and-Red were named to the squad along with head coach Peter Nowak.
Although there will certainly be a lot of action in the main event, with Ryan Nelsen and Jaime Moreno starting for the East, the pre-game festivities promise to pack nearly as much excitement.
Prior to the East v. West showdown at 2 p.m., there will be a 'Celebration Game' featuring stars of the 1994 FIFA World Cup who later starred in Major League Soccer. The Celebration Game will feature a USA team led by John Harkes, Alexi Lalas, Marcelo Balboa and Juergen Sommer taking on a team of world stars such as Carlos Valderrama, Raul Diaz Arce, Mauricio Cienfuegos and Marco Etcheverry.
Joining the MLS World team - pulling double duty - will be United head coach Peter Nowak. Lacing up the boots again was never a question of desire for Nowak, who leads practice on a day-to-day basis from the field, playing wherever necessary to fill out even numbers in a drill.
"I agreed to play in this game on one condition: that I don't have to run for Marco [Etcheverry] or Carlos Valderrama," quipped Nowak. "I'm playing left back. With Hristo [Stoitchkov] playing left midfield, that's going to be hard enough."
Great seats are still available for the 2004 Sierra Mist All-Star Game and the Celebration Game. Tickets to the double-header start as low as $20 in advance, with discounts available for groups of 20 or more. To purchase tickets, call D.C. United at 202-587-5000.
Wednesday's match between D.C. United and Nottingham Forest will be preceded by a match between the Washington Freedom and the Nottingham Forest Ladies Football Club. Kick-off for the preliminary match is set for 5 p.m., with a ticket good for both matches.
Between the games, fans can catch a glimpse of Hollywood on the Budweiser fiesta deck, as John Cho and Kal Penn make an appearance promoting their new movie. Cho and Penn will be signing autographs in support of "Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle," while taking in a bit of soccer action from East Capitol Street.
John Roushkolb is a contributor to dcunited.com.