We included this in the roundup, but thought it deserves calling out: Real Madrid will play Celtic at Lincoln Financial on August 11 at 1:30 p.m., according to a Philly.com report.
This will be the second year in a row Real Madrid plays at the Linc (they beat the Union 2-1 last year). Why is that significant? Because soccer is in a crazy growth phase in the U.S. right now, aided by more coverage (FOX Soccer channels, specifically), ESPN getting behind the sport, and successful World Cup runs for both the U.S. men’s and women’s teams in recent years (though the U.S. Men’s team failed to qualify for the Olympics for the first time in 20 years this year). The early success of the MLS in Philadelphia has helped locally, too.
News of the Spanish powerhouse coming to Philly yet again means that the winner of the most prestigious league in the world (UEFA Champions League), Chelsea, who will play the MLS All-Stars at PPL Park in July… the Scottish champ, Celtic… and perhaps the best team in the world, Real Madrid, will all play in Philadelphia this summer. That’s a big deal for exposure.
As mentioned, soccer is growing rapidly in the U.S., and, often times, more English and other European games are televised here than they are in their respective countries. For example: Every English Premier League match on the last day of the season (there are no playoffs) was televised in the U.S. this year, yet that wasn’t the case England, where fans didn't have the option of tuning in to see the frantic final moments of the season (there are benefits beyond just winning the league– finishing in the top 4, not finishing in the bottom 4, and so on). Our appetite for sports, combined with, like, 9,000 cable channels, makes U.S. viewers prime targets for sports leagues, anywhere. And having teams like Real Madrid, Celtic and Chelsea (and Juventus, Tottenham and Liverpool, who are playing in nearby cities) play in Philadelphia goes a long way in introducing the game to new potential fans.
Last year, after watching Real Madrid play the Union, I latched on to the sport. I became hooked last fall and winter watching the English Premier League. I purchased the FOX Soccer app to watch non-televised games on my iPad. I bought two versions of FIFA soccer on PS3, spent many a weekend morning at the Iron Abbey watching matches being played 4,000 miles away, and now say things like pitch and ball and strike. Most of that interest is based off seeing one game last summer. So it works.