Dems Stage Theatrical Comeback to Reclaim Title as Congressional Soccer Match Champions!
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the Congressional Soccer Match – this year presented by the U.S. Soccer Federation – returned in all its excitement, convening embassy employees, Members of Congress, sports legends, Hill staffers, and soccer fans in support of the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s proven, life-changing programs for children in underserved communities. In their first meeting since the 2019 event, Republicans and Democrats went head-to-head at D.C. United’s Audi Field to compete for the coveted 2022 Congressional Soccer Match title. Ultimately, the Democrats reigned victorious.
The scoring opened in the 14th minute of the game when Rep. Anthony Gonzalez curled the ball back post around goalkeeper Rep. Tom Milanowski. The Republicans again were up on the scoresheet after a handball in the Democrats’ box, after which Rep. Mike Gallagher found the net off a penalty kick. It was just before halftime that the Dems found their way back into the game when ESPN’s Sebastian Salazar slotted the ball past Republican goalkeeper Rep. Blake Moore. The first half score finished Republicans, 2, Democrats, 1.
Washington Spirit players appeared in full force as they were celebrated at half time for earning the championship title during the 2021 NWSL season. DC SCORES poet athletes also performed their spoken word poetry for the crowd.
The second half of the Congressional Soccer Match saw no shortage of activity. Three minutes in, Brian McMillan, Senior Counsel for Rep. Eric Swalwell, quickly capitalized and brought the score 2-2. Just two minutes later, President of Club Operations for the Washington Spirit and former D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen gave the Dems the lead with an excellently timed header. Ben Olsen’s Washington Spirit colleague and former USMNT player Lee Nguyen quickly followed suit with another goal a couple minutes later to strengthen the Democrats’ lead. With five minutes to play, Santino Quaranta found the net to bring the Republicans back into the game. Akin to their combination play in the 2019 Match, Ben Olsen and Eric Fins, Deputy Staff Director for Rep. Kathy Castor, combined on a play that left Fins one on one with the goalie after a through ball from Olsen. Fins found the back of the next with two minutes to play. At the final whistle, the Democrats came out victorious with a final score of Republicans, 3, Democrats, 5.
“We’ve been waiting a long time to get back on the pitch, and it showed tonight,” said Ed Foster-Simeon, President & CEO of the U.S. Soccer Foundation. “The Congressional Soccer Match is a special event where people from all over the country and the world come together and can speak the same language in support of this game we all love. We’re thrilled our friends at U.S. Soccer joined us as presenting sponsor this year and we are grateful for all who came out to support programs helping transform children’s lives in underserved communities.”
While the 2022 FIFA World Cup will not take place until later this year, 21 embassy teams representing their countries kicked off the night of festivities in a friendly, mini-World Cup-style tournament, with game production run by District Sports, a local non-for-profit organization connecting D.C. residents through soccer. Following eight small-sided matches, the Embassy of Croatia took home the first-place trophy after defeating the United Kingdom II team by a narrow score of 2-1. Senator Todd Young was in attendance to present the trophy. For a full list of embassy tournament scores, visit this link.
Following the Congressional Soccer Match, Hill staffers and federal employees laced up their boots for the Staffer Tournament, played under the lights at Audi Field.
All proceeds from the Congressional Soccer Match support the U.S. Soccer Foundation to help expand its proven programs nationwide.
Through its proven programs, the U.S. Soccer Foundation provides underserved communities access to innovative play spaces and evidence-based soccer programs that instill hope, foster well-being, and help youth achieve their fullest potential. By 2026 the Foundation aims to engage 1 million youth in its sports-based youth development programming and install 1,000 mini-pitches in undeserved neighborhoods. To date, more than 400,000 children have been engaged in its Soccer for Success program and nearly 500 mini-pitches have been created and are open for play in communities across the country.
2022 Congressional Soccer Match Participants
- Sally Brown-Shaklee, Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of Rep. Dick Durbin (D-IL)
- Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL)
- Colleen Carlos, Chief of Staff, Office of Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA)
- Joel Cohen, Legislative Director, Office of Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV)
- Mike Cullina, CEO, US Club Soccer
- Eamon Finan, Bloomberg
- Eric Fins, Deputy Staff Director, Office of Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL)
- Miguel Franco, Telemundo
- Smith Hunter, U.S. Soccer Youth National Team
- Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA)
- Lori Lindsey, Former member, U.S. Women’s National Team
- Joanna Lohman, Former member, U.S. Women’s National Team
- Rocky McIntosh, Former member, NFL, Philanthropist
- Brian McMillan, Senior Counsel, Office of Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA)
- Devon McTavish, Former member, D.C. United, Current Color Analyst, D.C. United Broadcast
- Rep. Tom Milanowski (D-NJ)
- Zachary Mitchiner, Communications Department, Office of Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX)
- Lee Nguyen, Assistant Coach, Washington Spirit & Former member, U.S. Men’s National Team
- Ben Olsen, President of Club Operations, Washington Spirit, Former member, U.S. Men’s National Team and D.C. United
- Luis Rosero, Telemundo
- Sebastian Salazar, Host, Reporter and Play-by-Play Announcer, ESPN Networks
- Tony Sanneh, Former member, U.S. Men’s National Team
- David Sutphen, U.S. Soccer Foundation Board Member
- Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV)
- Sarah Towels, PepsiCo
- Jeff Agoos, SVP of Competition and Medical Administration, MLS & Former member, U.S. Men’s National Team
- Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE)
- Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX)
- Matthew Dunn, Bloomberg
- Luciano Emilio, Former member, D.C. United
- Fernando Fiore, Inter Miami CF Ambassador, TV presenter at TIGO SPORTS
- Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI)
- Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH)
- Steve Hartell, Amazon
- Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC)
- Rep. Darin LaHood (R-IL)
- Doug Lyons, U.S. Soccer Foundation Board Member
- Nicholas Mayhugh, Paralympian, Team USA
- Rep. Blake Moore (R-UT)
- Cindy Parlow Cone, President, U.S. Soccer, Former member, U.S. Women’s National Team
- Santino Quaranta, Former member, U.S. Men’s National Team and D.C. United
- Blake Randolph, Legislative Counsel, Office of Senator Rubio (R-FL)
- Michael Rauber, Deputy Communications Director, Office of Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH)
- Juergen Sommer, Former member, U.S. Men’s National Team & U.S. Soccer Foundation Board Member
- Cully Stimson, U.S. Soccer Foundation Board Member
- Rep. David Valadao (R-CA)
- Megan Wharton, U.S. Women’s Beach Soccer National Team
- Mark Williams, Ferox Strategies
- Senator Todd Young (R-IN)
- Brian McBride, Former member, U.S. Men’s National Team
ABOUT THE U.S. SOCCER FOUNDATION
The U.S. Soccer Foundation’s programs are the national model for sports-based youth development in underserved communities. Since its founding in 1994, the Foundation has established programs proven to help children embrace an active and healthy lifestyle while nurturing their personal growth beyond sports. Its cost-effective, high-impact initiatives offer safe environments where kids and communities thrive. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Soccer Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization. For more information visit www.ussoccerfoundation.org or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
ABOUT THE CONGRESSIONAL SOCCER MATCH
In its 8th year, the Congressional Soccer Match is a widely attended event held in the nation’s capital that brings together Members of Congress, Hill staffers, athletes, corporations, embassies, and community leaders and organizations in support of one cause: using soccer to improve children’s lives on and off the pitch. All proceeds from the event will support the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s programs that provide underserved communities with access to innovative play spaces and evidence-based soccer programs. This year’s sponsors include U.S. Soccer Federation, Telemundo, adidas, Amazon, Bloomberg, D.C. United, The DICK’s Sporting Goods Foundation, Washington Spirit, PepsiCo, Blockchain Association, Congressional Federal Credit Union, Ferox Strategies, GEICO, U.S. National Teqball Federation, and Indigov.
Photo Credit: Jose Argueta