Pulisic return to home state.

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Christian Pulisic sign jerseys for fans. Pulisic is quickly becoming the best US soccer player. Photo from Pulisic’s twitter.

Christian Pulisic of Borussia Dortmund is coming home for an international friendly. Pulisic is a 19-year-old professional soccer player who plays in Germany’s top division and for the United States Men’s National Team (USMNT). Recently becoming one of the best players for the USMNT, Pulisic is returning to his home state of Pennsylvania against Bolivia.

The USMNT will play Bolivia on May 28. According to ESPN, the USMNT coach Dave Sarachan announced Pulisic will be named to the squad.  Usually games this far in advance would not have any players would not be named, but Pulisic is not just any player. He is the brightest prospect to play for the USMNT. Playing in Germany, he plays in front of thousands on the regular basis. In May however he will play about 100 miles from his home of Hershey PA.

There have been multiple times that Pulisic played near his hometown, but none since he has played in Germany, and his role as a star player. Philadelphia will host the rest of the USMNT and Bolivia in Philadelphia Union’s stadium. The game is a great opportunity to see International soccer.

Baltimore has a large American Outlaws membership. The American Outlaws is a national group of supporters that sole goal is to support the USMNT. Many fans of US soccer live in Baltimore but are not American Outlaw members, and they will still have a reason to see Pulisic in Philadelphia. I wouldn’t expect anything less than a fantastic game with Pulisic so close to his hometown. Giving the crowd will be extra supportive of Pulisic, and Bolivia being a less than average team, it should be his game to take complete control.

There is nothing quite like international soccer. I have been to a game in Baltimore, and it is a different soccer experience. The crowd just seems more alive, and with the USMNT not making the 2018 FIFA World Cup this will likely bring the best team possible to Philadelphia.

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International soccer match in Baltimore MD. USMNT will play in a stadium much like this May 28. Photo By Jake Stolzenbach.

Philadelphia is a 2 hour drive up 95 from Baltimore. That 2 hours includes traffic. The city is a great sports town, and this is a great road trip for any USMNT fan to embark upon. The Baltimore chapter of American Outlaws will almost certainly plan a trip to Philadelphia for the game, but you have to be a member. For the purpose of transparency I am a member of American Outlaws. The tickets to the game are of course open to anyone. The prices start around $35 from various websites.

However if you are busy on May 28, but still want to see Pulisic play, then you are in luck. Pulisic’s club team, Borussia Dortmund, will play multiple games in the US. Since the team is coming to the US, Pulisic will play a major role in advertising for the game, and effectively forcing Borussia Dortmund to play Pulisic.

Baltimore fans are in luck. 2 of the 3 games Borussia Dortmund will play in the US are on the East Coast. Pittsburgh and Charlotte are both driving distance from Baltimore. The 2 teams that will face Borussia Dortmund are also great team. Pulisic will still play heavily in these games since the USMNT did not qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Tickets to all the games are now available, and are only slightly more expensive than USMNT game against Boivia. Any chance to see Pulisic is a chance to see US soccer greatness in the making.

 

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Cinderella finally return?

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Christos FC shirt at Christos Discount Liquors. Christos FC is looking to make another Cinderella run in the Lamar US Open Cup. Photo by NBC Sports Washington.

CInderella never returns to the ball, but for Christos FC they are they to be that one Cinderella team that repeats. Second round pairings in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup (US Cup) have been released and Christos FC is back fighting for it.

Any Charm City soccer fan will remember the Cinderella run of Christos FC in the US Cup last year. Named after a liquor store that is less than a mile from my house, Christos FC is as local as it gets. The players all went to local high schools and many went to UMBC and other local colleges. The team is an amateur team, but they beat 2 professional teams last year in the US Cup. Unfortunately for Baltimore, Christos FC was eventually booted from the tournament. That was a year ago.

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Christos Discount Liquors in Glen Burnie, MD. Christos Discount Liquors sponsors the team of the same name.

This is now, and Christos FC is back for their chance to go deep into the cup tournament once more. Being an amateur team, the odd are stacked against Christos FC. They are going to Reading PA to play Reading United AC. As the names suggests, they play in Reading, PA.

Reading is a 2 hour drive from Baltimore. Soccer at any level is wonderful to watch. Opportunities like this do not come up very often. A chance to root on a hometown team, and Christos FC is a team going against the odds. The Philadelphia Union of MLS is the parent club of Reading United AC. That means the players of Reading United AC are scouted by a professional team. While Christos has faced this type of opposition before, support from the Baltimore soccer community can only help. Fans traveling to see you is the biggest boost a player can feel.

Reading United play in a high school stadium, and every fan’s voice will be heard loud and clear when the two teams face off on May 9th. Tickets cans be purchased now for only $5. High school stadiums are intimate, and sound reverberates onto the field. The ability to see fans eyes is not possible in bigger stadiums. It offers an experience like no other sporting event.

If the game goes the way most Baltimore soccer fans would like, then Christos will be facing off against the Richmond Kickers once again. This time around Richmond will be ready. Richmond Kickers of the USL, second tier in American soccer, lost to Christos FC last year. Christos will not have the element of surprise in Richmond this time. The kickers were stunned a year ago, but the little team that could will need to rely on new tricks and play even better against the Richmond kickers.

That rematch only happens if Christos FC wins in Reading first. Reading is no slouch of a team. They won their division in 2016, and they have qualified for the US Cup every year since 2009. This will not be a walk in the park for Christos FC. Every Baltimore soccer fan should turn out to support Baltimore’s most successful amateur team. With no professional team in Baltimore, Christos FC is the only chance to see a local team go up against professional teams. That’s the beauty of the US Open Cup, for anyone can win.

If you do make the right decision and go to root on Christos FC, then the address to the stadium is 2601 Grandview Blvd, Reading, PA. Reading United play at Wilson High School.

 

Cities hosting a World Cup game

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International soccer at M&T Bank stadium. Photo by Jake Stolzenbach.

FIFA, the worldwide authority on soccer, has started touring the United States in anticipation of june’s vote for the host of the 2026 World Cup. FIFA visits a few cities to see which city will be the main city of the 2026 world cup. The bid put in includes Mexico, United States, and Canada.

The US will host most of the games in the world cup. There are 23 cities that need to be cut down to 16. For Baltimore soccer fans this could be a once in a lifetime opportunity to watch World Cup soccer in person. If FIFA picks Baltimore or Washington DC to host a game, then it will be even easier for supporters to watch the game.

Most likely FIFA will only pick one of the two cities, so let’s look at the pros and cons of each city. Starting north to south, analyzing the; stadiums, hotels, airports, travel, and soccer culture. Keeping in mind that 2026 is 7 years away, and many things can change between not and then.

Washington DC has many stadium options one being Fedex field in Landover MD, and the other being Audi Field. Fedex Field isn’t in DC and it is not soccer specific. Not being soccer specific will require more accommodations to be made to the stadium to host the World Cup games, but the stadium seats 82,000. Audi field is a soccer specific stadium built for the DC United. The stadium is meant for soccer so it will have grass already laid. Players want grass instead of turf. Grass is more predictable with ball movement and doesn’t damage the skin like turf can.

DC soccer culture set the bar. DC United is one of the oldest clubs in Major League Soccer. The team is heavily supported, not just in DC, but in Baltimore as well. The team has been struggling for a few seasons, but the team still pulled in 41,000 in attendance in the last game of the 2017 season. Attendance won’t be a problem for a World Cup game in DC.

Dulles International and Reagan International are airports in DC. Traveling in DC is easier with the airports being in the city. Traffic in DC is terrible, but public transit in DC is popular and effective. Cabs and uber can help the people who don’t want to use public transit. DC has many cabs. Moving fans across the city is important, otherwise fans won’t be at the games.

A lot of Hotels are in DC. The city alone has 132 hotels which have a total of 31,673 hotel rooms. FIFA needs places for fans to stay. They know how important hotels are to the hosting a World Cup.

Baltimore soccer supporters will flock to DC to see the best of the best. DC will be filled with the Baltimoreans who love soccer. The drive from Baltimore to DC is under an hour. Baltimore sports when in DC, Orioles and Ravens, have a huge fan following, so its natural that the fans flock to DC.

It is sad, but Baltimore seems forgotten in the national sports landscape. It seems that Baltimore isn’t as important as DC. It wouldn’t be shocking if FIFA completely overlooked Baltimore, but that would be short sighted of FIFA.Soccer in Baltimore is alive and thriving.

The most likely stadium option is M&T Bank stadium, but like FedEx field, M&T Bank is home to an NFL team. This is makes it a non soccer specific stadium. This will cause issues with some players. M&T Bank has a capacity of over 71,000. The only other option is Camden yards, but with baseball being in season during the World Cup, that would be impossible.

Soccer culture is alive and well in Baltimore. International soccer is not a stranger to M&T Bank stadium, with 50,000 tickets being sold when the CONCACAF Gold Cup had games played in Baltimore. I was there and when the US played, it was electric. Just as loud as any Ravens game. Soccer culture should not be an issue to FIFA. If Baltimore will show up to DC, then they will definitely show up to Baltimore. Soccer is slowly becoming engrained in Baltimore’s DNA

BWI airport serves the Baltimore area. Located 15 minutes outside of Baltimore is a drawback, but public transit does offer easy access to the city. Baltimore’s traffic is not as severe as DC’s. Baltimore is located off of I-95, and provides easy access up and down the east coast. Baltimore has an extensive bus route, many of the routes tourists would use are free. Baltimore also has a strong presence of Lyft and Uber.

Trivago.com says has 170 hotels in Baltimore. That’s not the best source because it could include more than hotels in just the city, but it shows that there are plenty of hotel options in Baltimore. Fans need a place to stay for their trip to see the World Cup. FIFA is selective with the cities that are picked to host World Cup games.

Soccer supporters just want easy access to World Cup games. The World Cup is the  most viewed sporting event in the world. Watching the World Cup in person is one of the biggest goals for soccer fans to experience. FIFA has a massive job to pick the cities that will be the face of America if the United 2026 bid is elected. Washington DC or Baltimore are both great options that will allow soccer supporters in Baltimore to watch the World Cup live.

 

Dortmund and Tottenham to play in America.

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Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, PA. Heinz field is the most likely stadium to host Dortmund v. Tottenham. Photo by Heinzfield.com

Reports are surfacing that Tottenham Hotspur and Borussia Dortmund will play each other in Pittsburgh, PA. With both teams having supporter groups in Baltimore, this will be a wish come true for many fans. Baltimore Spurs and Charm City BVB will have an opportunity to see their teams in person without flying across the Atlantic Ocean.

Most reports need to be taken with a grain of salt. Soccer is notorious for “reports” to turn out to be fabricated with no intent of being true. In the modern soccer media landscape “clickbait” is everywhere. I have never heard of the website football.london, but I have heard of, and respect,  kicker.de. Kicker is a German language website so translating may be needed, but the website confirms the original article stating that Borussia Dortmund will play in Pittsburgh.

Tottenham’s trip has been confirmed by worldsoccertalk.com, and that website is also trusted. So there is no reason not to believe the article by football.london. Tottenham has played in America many more times than Dortmund.

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View from the stands at Wembley Stadium. Wembley is home to Tottenham Hotspur while a new stadium is built. Photo by Mitch Rosen on Unsplash

These two teams have played each other the past two seasons in European competition.  Borussia Dortmund won both times in the 2016-17 season, and Tottenham won both times in the 2017-18 season. It is rare that teams in different leagues play each other in different competitions in back to back seasons, but they are both exciting teams to watch. Now that they are meeting in Pittsburgh, this will allow more people to see their matches in person.

These teams are coming to America to play in the International Champions Cup (ICC). The ICC is nothing more than a glorified friendly. Teams that play in the ICC rarely fly their star players over, and let alone play them. This year will force the teams to play their star players even less, for this year is the 2018 world cup.

Since England and Germany are both in the World Cup, many of the starting players will be exhausted after a month long tournament. So what will happen is younger players will play in pittsburgh instead of the big name players. Making this game in Pittsburgh a great opportunity to see younger players who will hopefully start for the first team one day. The World Cup ends July 15th, but as a Borussia Dortmund fan, I have never seen the team play in person.

Borussia Dortmund is a club out of Germany’s top division, Bundesliga, and Tottenham Hotspur is from England’s top division, Premier League. England is easier than Germany to get to, but just like everything there is a catch. The cheapest matchday Premier League game ticket is £28.30, while the cheapest bundesliga ticket is £10.33.

Tickets to see the game in Pittsburgh will not be cheap, but supporters will flock to the city to see their team. With both clubs having supporter groups in Baltimore and Pittsburgh only being a four hour drive away, I expect there to be an organized trip from both groups.

This will be a great time to meet fellow supporters of the same team. People from all over the country will be coming to see their team in person, and it will be great to have an opportunity to enter the culture of American soccer. Baltimore hosted games from the ICC a couple years ago, and fans of soccer showed up even if their teams were not playing. Pittsburgh will most likely be the same. Living in America can make watching european soccer teams in person nearly impossible, but summer trips to America for tournaments like the ICC gives Americans the opportunity to see European soccer in person.

 

Road To Russia World Cup

The road to the 2018 Fifa World Cup could be a challenging one for any American Outlaws who were interested in going. Two issues, One the US men’s team didn’t actually make it to the event, and Two ” it just feels like a logistical nightmare,” said American Outlaws head of communications.

The American Outlaws are the biggest support group for the US men’s national team (USMNT) and it’s not surprising that American fans don’t want to fly halfway across the world to not see their team. The US men’s team broke many fans hearts when the team didn’t win a game against the worst team they faced the entire qualifying, But the Fifa World Cup has so much more to offer USMNT fans.

I fell in love with soccer because of the comradery that you get from watching and talking about soccer. Baltimore is a huge sports city. With NFL and MLB teams, Baltimore does not have a professional soccer team to call its own, so the soccer fans get creative.

Bars all over the country will have event during the Fifa World Cup. With Russia being a near impossible option, watching the world cup in a bar is a great option to get the comradery that makes soccer great.

Baltimore is a very diverse city. Germans,  Polish, and Mexicans are all ethnicities frequently found in Baltimore. All of those nations nations are playing in the world cup. Finding a team to root for in the 2018 Fifa World Cup should be easy. There are 32 teams to choose from.

With games nearly everyday in June, simply going to a bar while a game is playing is a great way to get into the sport if you are new to soccer. American Outlaws have a watch party for every USMNT game, but there won’t be any this year with the team not being in the World cup. But the same bars that host the American Outlaws during the USMNT games are almost certainly still hosting parties for the Fifa World Cup.

For the purposes of being transparent, I am a member of the American Outlaws. I got it as a gift from my sister, but that’s not why I am writing the praises of the Outlaws. I am simply trying to state that the Outlaws are a great tool.

Slainte Irish Pub and Restaurant in Fells Point is the American Outlaws Baltimore chapter. Looking at their website shows the role they play in Baltimore soccer.

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Slainte Irish Pub and Restaurant’s homepage.

There are thousands of bars across the country that will love to be flooded with soccer fans watching the Fifa World Cup. Most people do not want to fly to Russia to see the Fifa World Cup. Many people cannot afford to make the trip. Especially with the political climate that the US and Russia recently. While I don’t believe there would be any issues with the World watching, Russia is a wildcard. There is no better place to watch the Fifa World Cup than the Good Ole’ USA, and a soccer bar is the best place in America to watch it.