Dems win nail-biter in charity congressional soccer game

Democrats snatched a 5-4 victory over the Republican team on Tuesday night at the U.S. Soccer Foundation's sixth annual Congressional Soccer Match.

It was by no means an easy win. The Republican team nearly scored a fifth, tying goal in the last minute of the game, but overshot.

“It wasn’t the longest minute in sports history, but it was up there,” said Rep. Rick LarsenRichard (Rick) Ray LarsenActing FAA chief defends agency's Boeing 737 Max safety certification Pelosi, Dems struggle to find unity in Mueller response Booker takes early lead in 2020 endorsements MORE (D-Wash.) about watching the final shot.

The two teams included lawmakers, former professional soccer players and others who gathered for the match at Gonzaga College High School in Washington, D.C.

ADVERTISEMENT

The skies nearly ruined the game. The event got pushed back after a long day of heavy rain and lightning, but eventually players rushed the field and played through the threatening weather.

The event benefits the U.S. Soccer Foundation, which aims to promote the sport to children in underserved communities.

The GOP lawmakers who took the pitch included Reps. Don Bacon (Neb.), Darin LaHoodDarin McKay LaHoodKoch-backed group pushes for new limits on Trump's tariff authority Dems win nail-biter in charity congressional soccer game Overnight Cybersecurity: Tech execs testify on countering extremist content | House approves cyber diplomacy bill | Pentagon reportedly mulling nuclear response to cyberattacks MORE (Ill.) and David ValadaoDavid Goncalves ValadaoThe 8 House Republicans who voted against Trump’s border wall The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by T-Mobile — The political currents that will drive the shutdown showdown Rep. Valadao officially concedes in California race MORE (Calif.). The Dem side included Reps. Kathy CastorKatherine (Kathy) Anne CastorHouse climate panel will study drilling ban backed by 2020 Dems Overnight Energy — Presented by Job Creators Network — Ocasio-Cortez knocks O'Rourke's climate plan | Dems in disarray over Paris climate bill | Climate change top issue for Dem voters in poll Dems lack unified plan for pushing Paris climate bill MORE (Fla.), Ruben KihuenRuben Jesus KihuenMembers spar over sexual harassment training deadline Nevada Dem sanctioned for sexual misconduct announces city council bid Dem gains put Sunbelt in play for 2020 MORE (Nev.), and Larsen.

While the lawmakers were eager to show off their skills, they were also aided by former pros. The Democrats took the field with former U.S. National Team standout Cobi Jones, their star goalie Saskia Webber, former Major League Soccer star Jaime Moreno, as well as a former gridiron star, ex-NFL linebacker Roger McIntosh. Reporter Olivia Beavers from The Hill newspaper, the event's media sponsor, also joined the Dem team.

On the Republican side, the lawmakers were joined by former U.S. National Team Captain John Harkes, Clarence Goodson and former D.C. United star Santino Quaranta.

Some lawmakers stayed on the sidelines, cheering on their side, including Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Mich.) and Sen. Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungBipartisan senators unveil measure to end surprise medical bills Pence, McConnell eulogize Sen. Richard Lugar On The Money: GOP angst grows over Trump's trade war | Trump promises help for 'Patriot Farmers' | Markets rebound | CBO founding director Alice Rivlin dies | Senate to vote on disaster aid bill next week MORE (R-Ind.).

“I am most excited to see good rivalry that ends up in good sportsmanship,” Bergman said.

Bergman was originally slated to play with the Republicans, but unfortunately had to bow out after taking a ground ball to the kneecap at a baseball practice.

During the congressional game, the Democrats immediately pulled ahead, with Kihuen scoring the first goal within the first minute.

Another goal followed the minute after.

“You know, I think this is an indicator of what’s going to happen in 2018,” Kihuen joked. “You know, we’re gonna, we’re gonna win. We’re gonna win in 2018. Democrats!”

Kihuen's tough play resulted in an injury, however, with the lawmaker spraining his ankle.
LaHood said the game wasn't forecasting 2018.

“This is soccer, and politics will happen on the other side,” LaHood said.

LaHood was surrounded by supporters wearing shirts that read "It's all good in LaHood."

The Republican team scored two back-to-back goals in the first half of the game and repeated that feat in the second half. When Democrats went back up 4-2, the GOP side again clawed back with two more goals.

But their last-minute shot on goal failed to hit the mark, leaving the Dems with the win.

Bacon said the Republicans needed better teamwork on the pitch.

“They should have played more soccer,” he said.

But one Republican, a staffer, did claim a personal victory.

Melissa Enriquez, who works for Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiCongress must press Interior secretary to act on climate change Senate panel approves Interior nominee over objections from Democrats Women's civil rights are not a state issue MORE (R-Alaska) on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, won the "Queen of the Hill" prize in a penalty shootout contest. Enriquez sported a "Make Alaska Great Again" hat.