Football Comes to America

soccerA few months ago, I was elated to learn that two of the top soccer teams in England, Manchester City and Chelsea, were going to play a friendly match in Busch Stadium here in St. Louis. I’ve played soccer all my life and am a huge fan (particularly of the English Premier League), so I jumped at the chance to get a ticket.

I knew the tickets for the game had sold out, but I don’t think I realized the crush of people that would arrive at the stadium 30 minutes before kickoff. This was no Cardinals game with people showing up anytime between an hour before game time to the 5th inning. This was a mob of people trying to get into the stadium at the same time.

Usually when I go to Cardinals games, I calculate roughly when I’m going to get home that night. It’s a tough calculation because baseball games have no set end time. Then I realized the glory of soccer: You know exactly how long the game is going to take, every time. Brilliant game design.

The game was awesome. I love friendly games because there’s little fouling and little flopping–the game is wide open, and often it’s high scoring. That was the case tonight, with Chelsea going up 3-0 before Manchester City stormed back and won the game 4-3 with two minutes to spare.

I could hear the radio analysts talking about what the game meant for soccer in St. Louis, and I had to smile. Whenever there’s a big soccer event anywhere in the world that the US has some role in (maybe we supplied the hamburgers), all of a sudden people start talking about what it means for soccer in America. I think maybe those people aren’t aware of the sheer number of people who play soccer in America. I don’t think we’re ever going to be as good at soccer as people in countries like England or Brazil, where soccer balls are inserted into the womb in vitro, but that’s okay. We don’t have to try to be the best at everything. Let’s just enjoy some soccer.

I will say this: I hope people don’t interpret the success of tonight’s game to mean that St. Louis should get a professional MLS soccer team. Not that we couldn’t handle it–there’s a decent chance we could. But I think the existing popularity of the two teams that played tonight should not be overlooked. If tonight means anything, it means that people are interested in seeing two of the top teams in the world play soccer against one another.

Were you there tonight? Did you have fun? If you’re in another city, would you pay $50 to watch those two teams play?

3 thoughts on “Football Comes to America”

  1. Gosh, I wish I was there. Sounds like an amazing game. I bet the atmosphere was stupendous. The people, the cheering, the players. One of these days I’m going to watch one in person.

  2. It was SO FUN! Great energy, I so enjoyed seeing St. Louis represent well. NYC’s exhibition game is still trying to sell tickets, and they are cheaper.


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