In The Know

Democrats come out on top during congressional charity soccer game

The Hill

After last fall’s elections, Democrats snagged a much-needed victory in their 5-3 win over Republicans during the 2017 congressional soccer game late Tuesday.

Current and former professional soccer players, lawmakers and other Beltway bigwigs convened at Washington’s RFK Stadium to play in the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s Capital Soccer Classic.

“This rivalry has gotten much more intense every single year,” said Ed Foster-Simeon, president and CEO of the U.S. Soccer Foundation.

{mosads}“[The game] helps send a signal that we can have fun together, we can work together,” said Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), who was not playing in the game but came out to support fellow Republican lawmakers.

Donations from the event will go toward the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s youth development programs, which aim to help cultivate healthy and active lifestyle habits through the game of soccer.

“[The game] really keeps that relationship going with everything the Soccer Foundation wants to do,” said Cobi Jones, a former U.S. men’s national team player. “You need that political help in Washington, D.C. It keeps relationships going and it keeps soccer in the minds of congresspeople up on the Hill.”

The Democrats’ squad featured Reps. Suzanne Bonamici (Ore.), Ruben Kihuen (Nev.), Rick Larsen (Wash.) and Kathy Castor (Fla.), who coached the team. Democrats got help from former U.S. women’s national team player Heather Mitts and former U.S. men’s national team player Janusz Michallik.

The Republicans countered with Reps. Don Bacon (Neb.), Darin LaHood (Ill.), Todd Young (Ind.), Gus Bilirakis (Fla.), Erik Paulsen (Minn.) and David Valadao (Calif.). They were supplemented by former pros like former U.S. women’s national team member Lori Lindsey and Jones.

Other notable guests included CNN’s Chris Cillizza, Roger Bennett, co-host of the multiplatform soccer show “Men In Blazers,” and Former Ambassador of Mexico Arturo Sarukhan, who played on the Democrats’ team.

Despite being outnumbered, Democrats took an early lead, scoring within the first 20 seconds of the game. Republicans quickly answered with their own goal but couldn’t respond to the salvo of goals Democrats put up later in that half and the next.

The Democratic lead was solidified in the second half on a header by Kihuen, who connected despite the wet conditions from the consistent drizzle during the game. Before Kihuen turned to politics, he had professional aspirations, which were dashed by a career-ending injury.

Even though Tuesday evening’s focus was on soccer, politics still seeped into the event.

“I heard if we win, we get to the burn the budget,” one Democratic lawmaker joked after the game about President Trump’s budget proposal, which had been released earlier in the day.

Tags Rick Larsen Suzanne Bonamici Todd Young

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