On August 2nd, 2014, two of soccer's club giants, Manchester United and Real Madrid will face off in the one and only Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. For these two teams to meet and play in an American stadium is absolutely GIANT for the growth of the sport here in the US and can't come at a better time with the World Cup just ending, which saw more Americans tuning into games then ever before.
Ann Arbor's very own Michigan Stadium is a 109,901 (can push to 115,000+) capacity football stadium. Earning its nickname "The Big House" for its size and energetic fans, Michigan Stadium is a landmark in American sports. It's no stranger to sports other than football, the stadium recently hosted the 2014 NHL Winter Classic, an annual outdoor hockey game. It's seen games of lacrosse, with the Michigan varsity team playing their home games at the stadium. But Michigan Stadium is about to host arguably its most important game ever.
Soccer gets a bad rep in the US. It's very much on the backburner of sports when compared to American football, basketball, and baseball. When the national team loses a game or gets eliminated (Women's team need not apply), people throw it off easy: "This sport is stupid anyway" said a 2010 headline.
It's embarrassing really and bless the Men's national team for putting up with it. However, the sport is undeniably on the rise here. As stated before, more American watched the 2014 World Cup Final with Germany and Argentina playing then ever before. The USA knockout round games against Ghana, Portugal, and Germany had millions tuning in. And Major League Soccer, the country's premier professional soccer league, only grows every year. Once seen as a lowerclass league, MLS teams got the rep of being a place for retirement for world-class European players. The famous example is David Beckham going to play for LA Galaxy. There's always light at the end of tunnel however. MLS teams as of 2014 are much improved and have even beat English Premier League, England's top pro league,teams. For a soccer fan living in America, it's a wonderful and exciting thing to watch unfold.
So coming out of the 2014 World Cup with great performances by American forward Clint Dempsey and a record setting performance with goalkeeper Tim Howard, American interest is at an all time high and tomorrow is the game to show it.
Tickets to the Man Utd/Real Madrid game were sold out in minutes. Game organizers expect it to break the record for highest American attendance at a soccer game, the final statistic that the sport of soccer has a future in America and that it is growing in the present.
You can catch the game on Fox Sports (TV) or WatchESPN (live stream) at 4PM EST.