On July 24th the city of Baltimore will experience something it has never experienced before; an international soccer match. Many people were skeptical that the city would support a game but, after selling out all 70,000 tickets in a short amount of time, that skepticism has been put to bed. Baltimore will be experiencing a soccer “invasion” and that is not a bad thing.
Though it is still viewed as the world’s game soccer has been picking up steam nationally and selling out this game is a major step toward that. Perhaps one of the reason’s this game has drawn so well is because it comes on the heals of one of the greatest wins in US soccer history; a game that has left many Americans intrigued by the game. Soccer seems to be growing in America and the AC Milan/Chelsea exhibition can do nothing but help this grow.
Baltimore- a city often overlooked by many sports fans- surprised a lot people when they were able to land a game between two of the best football clubs in the world. Baltimore is a city that has a tremendous soccer history so it should come as no surprise that fans are coming out to support this game. High school soccer in Baltimore is regarded by many to be the best soccer in the country and the perennial championship caliber Baltimore Blast have had some of the best attendance numbers in the league for the last few seasons. Baltimore once again rose to the challenge and showed that they truly are an elite sports city. Hopefully this game is a sign of more things to come.
70,000 fans will create an atmosphere that is like none other. Even the loudest, most rocus Ravens crowd does not compare to the singing and chanting international soccer fan. I have been to a World Cup game and some other international games and there is nothing like it. Names like Lewis, Reed and Suggs are synonymous with M&T Bank stadium, but Friday, names like Drogba, Ronaldinho, Lampard and Ballack will take center stage Friday night. Some of the world’s most recognizable athletes will be on display in Baltimore, Maryland of all places. From the opening kick off to the final whistle the atmosphere at M&T Bank Stadium is sure to be at a level nobody has ever experienced.
Many cities wanted to land the game but Baltimore ultimately won. For at least 90 minutes Baltimore will be the center of the sporting world and the envy of many other sports cities. That is something that every Baltimore fan has always wanted. Who would have thought that soccer could have made it happen?