San Francisco will be a stop for the World Football Challenge, a series of exhibition games between the best teams in Europe and North America who play what Americans like to call soccer. AT&T Park will host the match between Manchester City from the English Premier League and Mexico City's Club América on July 16.The event's promoters brought in Marcus Hahnemann to make the announcement at AT&T Park yesterday; he's a member of the U.S. national team who has played professionally in England for the last 12 years, currently as the goalkeeper for the Premier League club Wolverhampton.
“I had a chance to play against Man City this last year, and the amount of stars on that team is just remarkable,” Hahnemann said. “And Club America, they have some fantastic players -- when they come to the States they always bring their top, top team”.
Hahnemann described AT&T Park and its 41,000 seats as an "intimate setting," comparing it to NFL venues that US soccer tours often have to book -- and certainly compared to América's 105,000-capacity stadium. Although Club América has a larger following in the Bay Area, Hahnemann expected some of Man City's most devoted fans to plan vacations around the tour.
"Whenever my team travels we have fans who follow us, to Australia or wherever," he said, “They make a holiday of our preseason camps, and so hopefully we’ll get some diehards here as well.”
English fans are famous for the songs and chants they devise, but Hahnemann couldn't tell us what Man City followers sing -- as a visiting goalkeeper, he says he tries to block them out. Wikipedia, however, says a version of "Blue Moon" is the song of choice, a tribute to the team's powder blue jerseys. And América players will wear navy blue and yellow, you may be interested to know.
Hahnemann says we'll see dramatic contrasts between the teams' styles. He described Mexican play as "slower but more skillful" and said English games are faster paced, in part because the teams have to play in the bracing British winters.
In that case, July in San Francisco should help make the Brits feel right at home.
Tickets are being handled by the San Jose Earthquakes box office.