Football at Fenway Perfect Fit for 2010 Summer of Soccer

Football at Fenway Perfect Fit for 2010 Summer of Soccer Perhaps few will remember the two clubs who took to the Fenway Park pitch on Wednesday, July 21, 2010. Perhaps even fewer people will remember the final score of the match.

But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t memorable.

Few people remember the event Michael Phelps swam to win his record eighth gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics, or the name of those two guys who played that wicked long tennis match earlier this year.

For the record, Phelps won his eighth gold in the 4×100 meter medley relay, swimming the butterfly in a record 50.1 seconds. American John Isner defeated Frenchman Nicolas Mahut 6-4, 3-6, 6-7(7), 7-6(3), 70-68 in an 11-hour,  five-minute match at Wimbledon. And, of course, Celtic FC of Scotland beat Sporting CP of Portugal 2-1 in a shootout (6-5).

Soccer may very well be on the rise in the United States, yet it could likely just be the flavor of the season, comparable to curling, a sport that saw excellent ratings in America during the 2010 Winter Olympics.

The U.S. men’s soccer team put forth a valiant effort this summer in South Africa at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. They overcame early letdowns, late-game drama and unconscionable refereeing blunders. In the end, they came within an extra-time strike from Asamoah Gyan to take Ghana into penalty kicks for a chance to advance to the round of eight.

The skill level of Major League Soccer in America just cannot compete with that of the English Premier League, Spain’s La Liga, Italy’s Serie A, nor Germany’s Bundesliga.  However, the MLS has seen a slight increase in attendance, despite their television ratings remaining flat.

Nevertheless, the summer of 2010 is the best shot soccer has at succeeding in this country, a fact that did not go unnoticed by Tom Werner, John Henry and the Boston Red Sox.

Whether the idea that soccer is on the rise in America is a fact, or another hopeful pipedream for stateside fanatics, Football at Fenway just felt right.

The pitch stretched from right field to left field, with the end lines running parallel to the third-base dugout.  The grounds crew brought in field turf to cover the infield dirt, which filled in relatively seamlessly.

Sporting CP and Celtic FC could not have been two more perfect clubs for the event, either. Certainly, the green primary colors and Celtic namesake could give even the most casual Bostonian soccer fan some sort of rooting interest.

Then, there was the nostalgic background of the Green Monster, hovering behind the team benches.  The entire scene was a perfect panorama picture for "man cave" basements and office décor, and to see the 37-foot green peering over a soccer match served as a reminder that we were living history.

The run of play for this "friendly" (which at times wasn’t so friendly) was fantastic. The crowd was energized and eclectic, and it was a perfect summer night in Boston, making Football at Fenway an overall success here in the Summer of Soccer.

While it’s too early to prognosticate if soccer can work its way into the upper echelon of sports in the U.S., the game certainly is riding a high.

The Football at Fenway match kept the wave rolling. Thanks to its timing, historical location and thrilling outcome, the event will be remembered as a celebration of the world’s most popular sport at one of the world’s most historic sporting grounds.

Yardbarker

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