A festive soccer atmosphere was on display at RFK Stadium Wednesday night, with English first division side Nottingham Forest bringing British passion and commitment to the nation's capital.
Throngs of scarlet-clad Forest supporters descended on RFK to watch their team gear up for the upcoming season with an exhibition against D.C. United, singing and chanting alongside United's own "Barra Brava" supporters' groups throughout the game. An entertaining 1-1 draw between Forest and D.C. United gave everyone something to be happy about.
Youthful vigor was the focus on the field, with both teams giving reserve players playing time and substituting freely. While the Forest players, still gaining match fitness, tired visibly in the second half, the game was free-flowing with end-to-end play.
Nottingham Forest manager Joe Kinnear was effusive in his post-game conference, pointing out the value of the hot and humid weather: "If you can't get fit in these conditions, you can't get fit at all."
He also pondered how the sides might compare in other situations. "I'd like to come around and play these in January, when we've got a half dozen games under our belt," he said.
Forest midfield prospect Andy Reid, an Irish youth international who is being closely watched by several Premiership clubs, made an impression on the vocal crowd of 13,333 spectators, rifling home a jaw-dropping shot from distance to grab his side's only goal.
Similarly, Freddy Adu looked as comfortable and confident as he has all season, playing a full 90 minutes and sending in quality free kicks and crosses. He also had a few opportunities to show off his substantial dribbling skills, much to the crowd's delight.
While United coach Peter Nowak might worry about his team's poor finishing (United outshot Forest 22-10), he seemed satisfied with the opportunity to give his bench players some action.
"A very competitive game," he said, "and we got almost everyone on the field."
Charles Boehm is a contributor to MLSnet.com.