AP PhotosThe celebs (Ashton Kutcher, Charlize Theron, Will Ferrell, et al) were out.
So was a loud and appreciative crowd of more than 80,000 that braved rush hour traffic and suffocating heat in Pasadena.
All to see a meaningless friendly between Jose Mourinho’s old club – Chelsea – and his current team, Inter Milan, at the Rose Bowl.
Read the game story here.
I was impressed: clearly there are soccer fans in L.A. with more fortitude than myself.
After working all day, I couldn’t face a 90 minute commute in the withering heat from the South Bay to Pasadena (especially with a Dodger game scheduled) so chose to stay home and snuggle up with a cold one in front of my hi def TV. (And yeah, I know I’m a spoiled wimp of a journalist considering I get to sit in an air-conditioned press box).
Still, it was a fun spectacle from my vantage point – or at least the first half was – despite the less than illuminating color commentary of John “not so brilliant” Harkes and his lingering fake English accent. (How the hell that guy – also responsible for perhaps the most poorly written soccer-related biography of all time keeps his job is beyond me. My biggest pet peeve? When he insists on saying “offsides” when he means offside – singular. Aggh!).
Which is why I was a little surprised to see the tone of this column from co-worker Scott Wolf.
Scott is a huge fan of the European game, owns more replica jerseys than any human being I know and often heads to Europe to take in a few games.
Scott has a lacerating sense of understatement he usually uses to good effect to skewer the deserving, but this one missed the mark (check out the comments at the end of the story).
Do pointy-ball football teams sell out preseason games? Thought not.
When that many people show up to an exhibition game early in pre-season (that one would think could be of questionable quality) on a weekday in these weather conditions at a time when this country is saturated with visiting top-class teams, well, the U.S. soccer community should be saluted, not condemned, for it’s showing.
I know I do. From the comfort of my couch.
Here’s the perspective from England.
And here’s the answer to the question, do these games help soccer grow at the grassroots level? In this case, yes.