Sunday, May 26, 2013

Soccer Showdown at Yankee Stadium

By Howard Goldin

BRONX, NEW YORK, MAY 26-Two of the major powers of the English Premier League, Chelsea FC and Manchester City FC, clashed on the pitch of Yankee Stadium on Saturday evening. The teams have met many times in their more than 100 years of history.
Their latest encounter before Saturday’s game was two days earlier at a sold-out Busch Stadium in St. Louis. In that exciting meeting, Manchester City came back from a 3-0 deficit to capture the friendly by a 4-3 margin.

Neither world-renowned football club is a stranger to the New York area. City faced the Red Bulls in 2010. Chelsea participated in the first soccer match at the current Yankee Stadium last year, when they defeated PSG (Paris Saint Germain).

Earlier in the week, a partnership between Manchester City and the Yankees was announced. The two highly successful century old sports organizations will work together, with City being the majority owner, to operate the newest team in the MLS (Major League Soccer), the New York FC. Although a home stadium has yet to be determined, the team will begin play during the 2015 season.

On the day of the match, the 161 BID (Business Improvement District), under the direction of its director, Dr. Cary Goodman, tried to make the neighborhood businesses especially accommodating to the international visitors. Several area sports bars gave a total of 400 sky blue commemorative mini-soccer balls to its patrons on Saturday. On behalf of the businesses, Goodman remarked, “We want everyone to enjoy this great soccer match. These are two great teams, representing two great soccer traditions. It should be great.”
Directly prior to the English match, all the fans in the stadium that arrived early had the opportunity to watch live coverage on the gant screen in centerfield of the 2013 UEFA Champions League championship from Wembley Stadium that was captured by Bayern Munich over Borussia Dortmund, 2-1. Members of Chelsea, had particular interest in viewing the match as they were victorious over Bayern in the 2012 title tilt.

Despite the cold, (58 degrees), windy, (22 mph, gusting to 35) and rainy afternoon in the Bronx, 39,465 purchased tickets to the match. The crowd exceeded in size the crowd who saw Chelsea in 2012 and the attendance at 14 of the 24 home games of the Yankees this season. These figures demonstrate that world class soccer can be taken seriously as a spectator sport in the United States.

As in their game on Thursday, there was no dearth of goals scored by the two English sides at the friendly in the Bronx. Manchester continued its superior play of Thursday by netting the only two goals of the first half. Midfielder Gareth Barry scored at the three minute mark and was followed by Samir Nasri 26 minutes later. City goaltender Joe Hart, who will be joining the English National Team upon his return home, stopped all five Chelsea shots on goal.

The two sides alternated goals in the second half. Ramires, the Brazilin midfielder, scored the first two for Chelsea. The third was scored on a free kick by Spain’s striker Juan Mata at the 82 minute mark.

A native of each of three European nations scored a goal in the second half for Manchester. France’s Nasri made his second score of the match, England’s James Milner and Bosnian Edin Dzeko each scored.

It was announced on the day of the match that Chelsea will return to the U.S. in the summer to participate in the Inaugural Guinness International Champion’s Cup with seven other world renowned sides, A.C. Milan, Inter, Juventus, Real Madrid, Valencia, Everton, and L.A. Galaxy.

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