Blues Cruise Over Special One’s Milan

AP Photosi-16c0957aa6c696ab7a08a76496649558-theron.jpgThe 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.

i-0a197a454a8ac6d21f07214458640d5f-specialone.jpgAll 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.

Highlights:

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About Nick Green

South Bay-based Los Angeles News Group soccer columnist and blogger Nick Green writes at the 100 Percent Soccer blog at www.insidesocal.com/soccer and craft beer at the Beer Goggles blog at www.insidesocal.com/beer. Cheers!
  • Greg

    This comment is not correct:

    “This must perplex the rest of the world. If this game were played in England or Italy, it would be sold out in minutes.”

    This game would probably sell well at Chelsea due to Mourinho, but anywhere else, a friendly between these two (or any two big teams) would not sell at all like a competitive match would.

  • UCLABZ

    Scott is a USC beat writer… he just couldn’t bring himself to write a positive story about the Rose Bowl…

  • http://www.phoenixcsc.com KingSnake

    Packers sell out their pre-season games.

    Hell, they draw 60,000 for their *scrimmages* …

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Bay_Packers#cite_note-19

    Nick replies: And that’s the rule, not the exception, in the NFL, right?

  • Studs Up

    The idiot people who shell out the big bucks to see these rip off games deserve no better. Many friends that I tried talking out of going to this game called back to say they should have listened to me. One went on to say the half time show was the best part of the game. Convincing these people to come out and support USMNT or Galaxy (even the ex-Galaxy USA) remains a battle that I must continue to fight alone since the media in this country is still biased and the few “soccer” journalists around are still Eurocentric and cannot bring themselves to appreciate our game and the huge efforts it takes to continue it in this country.

  • Tom Cruise

    These celebs that should be promoting the home town team. Poseurs.

    Tom Cruise>Ashton Krutcher

  • http://fromaleftwing.blogspot.com From A Left Wing

    I respond to your excellent post on this game on my site. And, yeah – tickets were expensive, and the game was sort of lame. But it was still fun. No regrets about the price of the ticket – about the same, in fact, as a Galaxy ticket but a lot closer to where I live.

    The Galaxy lost me when they put Herbalife on their shirt.

    I long for small neighborhood stadiums smack in the middle of the city. I run a neighborhood league, and think we’d have a pretty good scene if we had someplace for people to sit to watch the games. (Imagine, high-school sized stands – free or nearly free games, local taco & fresh fruit vendors supplying concessions.)

    I wish we had a better city-wide, region-wide effort to develop neighborhood clubs – not as a means for developing players, but FANS.

    Sigh. A girl can dream.

    Jennifer