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SOCCER

In 'America's Stadium,' English soccer powers put on show

By Jose Romero - Jul 27, 2016

PASADENA, Calif. -- Maybe come May of next year, the tens of thousands who filled most of the iconic Rose Bowl Wednesday can say they saw the beginning of it all. 

Of a run to the English Premier League championship for either Chelsea or Liverpool, the teams who played a preseason friendly as part of the annual Internationa Champions Cup tour.

The two British powers will have to dethrone last season's Cindereall, Leicester City. But most everyone figures LCFC can't repeat the magic and shockingly win again, so teams like Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool are among the top contenders.

Both teams created plenty of chances to score even after the Blues grabbed a 1-0 lead in the 10th minute. Cesc Fabregas, of Spanish national team fame, swung a corner kick that teammate Gary Cahill headed in for a goal. 

Liverpool's baby-faced Brazilian striker Roberto Firmino got free in the 35th minute for a goal, but the linesman's flag was up for offside negating the goal. 

The action on the field was only part of the show. Each end zone of the 90,000-seat plus Rose Bowl had Chelsea fans on one end and Liverpool supporters on the other, with a mixture of red and blue among the crowd on the sides. The Chelsea marketing arm pulled a smart move, handing out free T-shirts to their fans or anyone who wanted one. 

Nothing, though, topped the pregame singing of Liverpool's anthem that doubles as its motto, "You'll Never Walk Alone." Fans held red scarves high and belted out the lyrics. 

At the other end of the stadium just before halftime, someone managed to sneak in a smoke bomb among the Chelsea fans, giving the game more of a European feel. 

Liverpool fans would not be outdone, lighting up a red smoke bomb in the second half as the Reds tried to equalize. Their chances inmproved in when Fabregas was sent off with a red card for a nasty tackle.

The play on the pitch certainly wasn't soft. Both teams saw players served yellow cards and things got physical at times.

Several stars from each team were held out and both sides made mass substiutions, but none of that seemed to damper the crowd's enthusiasm. Chelsea's Eden Hazard, among others, did not play. Neither did Daniel Sturridge, a former Chelsea player now working for Liverpool.

International Champions Cup matches happen here in the States because they draw god crowds. A crowd of 53,117 showed up at the Rose Bowl, making the massive old park nicknamed, "America's Stadium" look rather empty in the upper decks, but that shouldn't preclude organizers from holding more matches with European teams in the area. 

Chelsea hung on with 10 men for a 1-0 win, and people seemed happy to have seen their favorite teams play regardless of the result. 

The International Champions Cup continues on the various ESPN networks and ESPN Deportes* through Aug. 13., in both English and Spanish. Friday morning's game is Tottenham Hotspur of London vs. Atletico Madrid from Melbourne, Australia, with the next U.S. games to be played Saturday.  

*Special thanks to ESPN Deportes for providing The Sporting Nation with game tickets for Chelsea-Liverpool.

 

 

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