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Rain, lighting halts play at RFK
June 5th, 2008 6:45AM

TAGS:  mls


A head-to-head matchup of how well D.C. United and Houston have recovered from their early-season struggles will have to wait. They managed to play just 15 minutes Wednesday at RFK Stadium before heavy rain and lightning forced referee Ricardo Salazar to wave the teams off the field, which had been saturated in the past 24 hours by a series of thunderstorms. By the time play was suspended at 8:02 p.m. ET, large puddles had formed on many parts of the field and every kick of the ball sent water spraying as players slipped and slid.

Officials waited an hour and 38 minutes before declaring the game postponed. Team and league officials will meet Thursday to agree on a make-up date. The game will be replayed in its entirety and team and league officials will have to work around the SuperLiga, in which both teams are participating. It kicks off next month.

"There wasn't any way we were going to play tonight," said D.C. United midfielder Santino Quaranta. "When you have that much water on most of the field it doesn't make sense. We get rained on sometimes but it was really coming down hard tonight."

Said injured midfielder Ben Olsen, "That was crazy. My basement has already been flooded, and it's basically Zach Wells' apartment. He's been staying with me."

Despite the brief running time and rapidly deteriorating conditions, both teams moved the ball upfield within shooting range, reflecting the improvement in their attacking play after struggling offensively in the first month of the season.

Houston coach Dominic Kinnear had to scratch forward Brian Ching from the lineup due to a tight hamstring, and the Dynamo started rookie Geoff Cameron up front with Dwayne DeRosario. They got in behind the D.C. back line twice in the early minutes but were unable to test keeper Zach Wells. With Houston's best chance Cameron fed DeRosario a good ball that the Canadian international first-timed over the bar.

Two long-distance shots from Marcelo Gallardo forced Houston keeper Pat Onstad to punch the ball clear and another effort from Fred zipped just wide. As rain poured down, strong winds whipped the flags atop the stadium, and lighting flashed in the dark sky Salazar stopped play and motioned for the field to be cleared.

D.C. United manager of media and public relations Kyle Sheldon said that according to team and stadium officials, that a game could be resumed as late as 11:15 p.m. ET, but at 9:40 p.m. came the announcement of the postponement. An hour later, most of the standing water had drained away and the skies were dry and calm, but RFK was nearly empty.

Storms forced the 2002 All-Star Game played at RFK Stadium to be shortened to fit into the ABC time slot. A 1998 game in Kansas City was postponed because of lightning and at RFK in 2000 a bank of lights went out in the second half during a game between D.C. and Kansas City with the score 0-0 and the game went into the books as a tie.

Both teams resume play Saturday. Houston hosts Toronto and D.C. travels to Chicago.

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