It’s a great time to be a soccer fan in the Bay Area! Soccer has always been popular in the area, thanks to our culturally diverse population, but every weekend it seems I see more and more kids kicking soccer balls in the park.
The opportunities for watching professional soccer have never been better. A brand-new professional soccer team is set to debut in Sacramento on July 18, and San Jose’s club, the San Jose Earthquakes, is more popular than ever after their stellar performance in the MLS and rise of their star striker Chris Wondolowski. The Earthquakes have begun construction on a brand-new, 18,000-seat stadium, scheduled for completion in 2014, so even more fans can enjoy the Beautiful Game. Even better news: more and more world-class soccer teams are scheduling trips to the Bay Area for exhibition matches and international friendlies! Here are five Can’t Miss soccer matches for Bay Area fans this summer:
JUNE 29: California Clásico, San Jose Earthquakes vs. LA Galaxy
You can expect an earthshaking event of galactic proportions when the San Jose Earthquakes play the Los Angeles Galaxy on June 29. The Earthquakes-Galaxy rivalry is one of the most historical rivalries in American soccer, and the only top American soccer rivalry in the world. When a match has its own nickname — The California Clásico, modeled after Barcelona and Real Madrid’s El Clásico — it means you’re going to enjoy fast, furious play, screaming fans, lots of hot heads and never a dull moment. As if the fireworks on the pitch weren’t enough, there’s a post-game fireworks show for the whole family to enjoy. Get your tickets as soon as you can, because even with Stanford Stadium’s 50,000 seat capacity, this game is sure to be sold out.
JULY 18: Sacramento Soccer Day: Sacramento All-Stars vs. MLS Reserves, Dorados de Sinaloa vs. Norwich City
Sacramento Professional Soccer will be launching their new professional soccer team with Sacramento Soccer Day, taking place on July 18, 2013 at Sacramento’s Raley Field. Sacramento Soccer Day will feature two exhibition soccer matches, one between the Sacramento All-Stars (composed of the best professional and amateur players from the region) and an MLS Reserve Team (made up in part by players from the San Jose Earthquakes), followed by a match between Mexico’s Dorados de Sinaloa and the English Premier League’s (EPL) Norwich City Football Club (Norwich City). This will mark the first time in history that an EPL team has played in Sacramento. In addition, the official team name, color palette, shield and scarf of the Sac Pro Soccer team will be announced. Expect more exhibition matches throughout the year, involving various high profile soccer teams. What a great way to kick off the new team’s inaugural season in 2014!
JULY 20: International Friendly, San Jose Earthquakes vs. Norwich City
Just two days after Sacramento Soccer Day, the Canaries will drive down to San Jose to face the San Jose Earthquakes in Buck Shaw Stadium. The match marks the fourth straight year the Earthquakes have hosted a team from the English Premiere League for a summer friendly. Despite having been promoted to the top-flight leage in English football just 2 years ago, the Canaries managed to finish in a comfortable 11th place. Both teams play fast-paced, forward thinking football, so it will be interesting to see how forward Grant Holt compares with our very own Chris Wondolowski and Steven Lenhart.
JULY 31: International Champions Cup, Everton vs Juventus
On July 31, baseball fans will give way to soccer fans at San Francisco’s AT&T Park, where the English Premiere League team Everton play Italian Serie A team Juventus in the first round of the Guinness International Champions Cup. The International Champions cup will pit eight of the world’s best clubs against each other in a world-class competition, in games throughout the US between July 27 and August 7. There’s an actual championship trophy to play for, so even though it’s off-season for European soccer, don’t expect any of the teams to take it easy, least of all Everton and Juventus. Nearly all players on both teams have played for their country (Juventus has contributed the most players to the Italian national team in history), including Juve’s World Cup-winning goalkeeper, the legendary Gianluigi Buffon, and Everton’s goalkeeper Tim Howard of Team USA. We’re hoping for some spectacular saves!
AUGUST 3: International Champions Cup double-header featuring Everton, Juventus, LA Galaxy, Real Madrid
Okay, LA isn’t in the Bay Area… but what’s a 6, 7-hour drive when the world’s greatest soccer player, Cristiano Ronaldo, is waiting for you at the end of it? The Guinness International Champions Cup, the same tournament that’s bringing Everton and Juventus to San Francisco, will feature a doubleheader match day at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on August 3. Four top teams — Everton, Juventus, LA Galaxy and Real Madrid — will play two games, and one ticket will get you into both games, so you’re sure to see all four teams no matter who plays whom. Personally, I’m hoping for a Galaxy-Real matchup so I can see Ronaldo, Iker Casillas, Kaka, Karim Benzema and the other Madrid superstars match up against the Galaxy’s Robbie Keane and our very own Landon Donovan. And even though he’s retired, is it too much to hope for that former Galaxy player David Beckham might be watching from the stands?
Bonggamom blogs on the weekdays and screams herself hoarse at her sons’ soccer games on the weekends. She blogs at Finding Bonggamom, Bonggamom Finds and The Savvy Source. You can also find her on Instagram and Pinterest.