Over the course of the past two weeks, soccer has become a popular topic in the United States. At the Major League Soccer All-Star Game, MLS Commissioner Don Garber announced that there would be four more teams added to the league.
“As MLS enters a period of accelerated growth,” Garber explained, “the addition of new teams will allow us to expand our geographic coverage, grow our fan base and help us achieve our vision of being among the best leagues in the world by 2022.”
Along with the addition of the new MLS teams, U.S.-born international player Clint Dempsey completed a $9-million transfer to the Seattle Sounders. At the age of 30, Dempsey’s four-year, $32 million deal makes him the highest-paid player in MLS history.
Finally, the International Champions Cup began in multiple cities across the U.S. The tournament brought some of the best teams in Europe, such as Real Madrid and Chelsea FC, to play in a tournament over the past two weeks, with the Los Angeles Galaxy being the lone MLS team in the tournament. The matches were played all across the country in cities such as Indianapolis, San Francisco and Phoenix.
The semifinals of the ICC were held Aug. 4 in East Rutherford, N.J., at MetLife Stadium. Valencia and Inter Milan were competing for the right to play in the fifth-place match, while Chelsea and AC Milan played for a berth in the championship match.
Over 39,000 people were at MetLife Stadium to watch all four teams play. Valencia was led by midfielder Jonathan Viera’s two goals as they defeated Inter Milan 4-0 in the first match, while an early Kevin De Bruyne goal and late extra-time Andre Schurrle goal gave Chelsea a 2-0 victory against AC Milan.
With the victory, Chelsea and manager Jose Mourinho advanced to face Mourinho’s former team, Real Madrid, for the championship. Mourinho, who is never one to shy away from controversy, took the high road when asked about his feelings about facing his former team. In the championship match, Real Madrid defeated Chelsea by a score of 3-1, led by two goals from superstar forward Cristiano Ronaldo.
“It’s the best for us because we want to play against the best teams,” Mourinho said after the victory against AC Milan. “To play Real [Madrid] is the best thing that could’ve happened.”
The response to the ICC matches being held in the U.S. has been tremendous, with crowds of over 30,000 attending each and every match. With the growing profile of MLS and soccer in the country, even more matches of this scale will be played in the U.S. in the future. One of the topics of discussion among ICC organizers was which cities could hold future tournaments.
Lincoln Financial Field is one of the locations being looked at as a host stadium possibility when the ICC returns to the U.S. next year. Philadelphia fits the type of city the ICC looks for when choosing a location, as the population in the area allows the organizers to attract strong soccer fans and casual fans alike. The Linc would be ideal because not only does it have the dimensions to hold a soccer match, but it also has the capacity to hold over 68,000 people. And judging by the high attendance at ICC matches this year, it would be an ideal location.
The inaugural season for the ICC has been a success in the U.S. Soccer fans from all parts of the country are being given an opportunity to see the top teams from around the world in their neighborhoods. Watching these teams play is an opportunity of a lifetime, and if Philadelphia is chosen for next year, fans from our region will be treated to a soccer experience like no other.