Real Madrid C.F. V Chelsea F.C.

International Champions Cup

Saturday 30th July 2016

Kick off 15.00 Actual 15.04

Real Madrid C.F. 3 Chelsea F.C. 2,  attendance 105,826

19′ 1-0 Marcelo

26′ 2-0 Marcelo

37′ 3-0 M. Diaz

80′ 3-1 E. Hazard

90′ + 1, 3-2 E. Hazard

@ Michigan Stadium

1201, South Main Street

Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Admission $55 + $8 fees, Will Call ticket.

No programme.

Coming off the highway I decided to park at the first car park I saw that was $20 or less. It meant a brisk 15 minute walk to the stadium, but I needed an easy escape route as I was flying home after the match. I was quite pleased that fifty yards past where I had parked the cost was $30 and a couple of hundred yards further on it was up to $40. The last car park coming in from this direction was absolutely heaving, despite charging an astronomical $60 !

Considering the majority of today’s crowd were one off visitors, there was no signage up for the ticket collection point. I had printed a map off, so knew where to head for, but still went past the entrance as there was no clue that this was the way in. Do these stadiums even think about this in planning events. Obviously not, but at least I had plenty of time to spare, so not a great problem.

Michigan Stadium, known as ‘The Big House’, is the largest stadium in the United States, having a current capacity of 107,601. It is home to the University Michigan Wolverines American Football team. It was opened in 1927 and every game played here by the Wolverines  since 8th November 1975 has drawn a crowd in excess of 100,000. The record crowd stands at 115,109 when Notre Dame University Fighting Irish were the visitors on 7th September  2013.

Real Madrid were again without any of their better known players, but put in a much better display. Chelsea had regular starters Terry, Cahill, Azpilicueta, Willian, Matic, Oscar and Pedro in the starting line up, with Courtois and Batshuayi coming on at halftime and Hazard playing the last 25 minutes.

My record crowd for a friendly, set on Wednesday, certainly didn’t last long. In fact, this was the second highest crowd ever to watch a ‘soccer’ match in the United States. The only higher one was in August 2014 when 109,318 saw  Manchester United v Real Madrid, again at ‘ The Big House’.

After the match I didn’t have too much time to spare, but as it was less than half an hour drive to Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, making my 8.20pm flight home was comfortable.


Detroit Tigers v Houston Astros

Major League Baseball

Friday 29th July 2016

First pitch 19.10

Detroit Tigers 14 Houston Astros 6,  attendance 31,771

@ Comerica Park

2100, Woodward Avenue

Detroit, MI 48201

$21.50 Admission

Programme available, didn’t bother.

I had made the 162 mile drive northeast to Detroit by early afternoon, but didn’t want to commit to buying a ticket too early, as thunderstorms were forecast until around an hour into the game. I phoned the stadium around 4pm, following a pretty wild thunderstorm, to make sure tickets were available at the ticket office, which they were, So I was able to delay my decision until around 6pm. No more rain arrived, although the skies were very grey, so it was game on. I parked in the nearest of the cheap car parks ($20) which was a  four block walk to the stadium, passing the construction site of the new Detroit Red Wings N.H.L. arena, which is due to open next year.

Comerica Park opened in April 2000, replacing Tiger Stadium. Capacity is 41,297, with the record attendance being 45,280, set in July 2008 for the visit of Chicago White Sox.

Fort Wayne Tincaps v West Michigan Whitecaps

Minor League Baseball

Class- A

Midwest League

Thursday 28th July 2016

First pitch 19.05

Fort Wayne TinCaps 3 West Michigan Whitecaps 1,  attendance 8,497

@ Parkview Field

1301, Ewing Street

Fort Wayne, IN 46802

$10 Admission

Programme free, 72 pages.

It was a 160 mile drive northwest into Indiana for tonight’s game. Parking was across the road from the stadium for $5, so ticket purchased and into the ground within 5 minutes of arrival. First pitch was delayed until 7.25 pm after a very brief rain shower just as we were scheduled to start.

The TinCaps are affiliated to the San Diego Padres. Home since 2009 is Parkview Field, an 8,100 capacity ballpark with 6,516 seats.

Real Madrid C.F. v Paris Saint-Germain

International Champions Cup

Wednesday 27th July 2016

Kick off 19.30 Actual 19.35

Real Madrid C.F. 1 Paris Saint-Germain 3,  attendance 86,641

2′ 0-1 J. Ikone

35′ 0-2 T. Meunier

40′ 0-3 T. Meunier

44′ 1-3 Marcelo (pen)

@ Ohio Stadium

411, Woody Hayes Drive

Columbus, OH 43210

Admission $60 + $10.80 fees, Print at home ticket.

No programme.

The cost of doing a return flight to Columbus, Ohio was extortionate, as was flying into here and dropping a hire car elsewhere, so I flew into Detroit, Michigan, as I would be doing a game near here on Saturday anyway. Therefore, instead of just doing games on Wednesday and Saturday, it was now a 4 day trip, so I needed games to fill in the blank days. First up it was a  190 mile drive south to Columbus.

Ronaldo, Bale, Benzema, Ramos, Modric, Kroos, Rodriguez, Pepe…….the names roll off the tongue. Sadly, none of these played, due to a combination of injuries and being rested following the Euro 2016 and Copa America Centenario tournaments over the summer. When these big name European clubs tour other continents they are just doing it to make money and have little regard for the paying public. I would be very surprised if any of the Americans would have recognised any more than three of the Real Madrid players, although most probably wouldn’t have heard of any of the missing eight either. Yes, I know it’s only a friendly, but a real public relations exercise is missed here. Funny how all the adverts in the media leading up to the match were using the top stars to sell it, even though there is little chance of them even turning up, let alone playing.

The Real Madrid fringe players were no match for a P.S.G. side that approached the game more seriously. It was a good open first half, but dreadful second as the Madrid reserves were replaced with even lesser names, except for perhaps Martin Odegaard.

Ohio Stadium is home to the Ohio State University Buckeyes American Football team and is also known as ‘The Horseshoe’ due to its shape. It was used by Columbus Crew, of the M.L.S. for two years prior to the opening of Columbus Crew Stadium in 1999. It has a 104,944 capacity, with the record attendance of 108,975 set in 2015.

Organisation around the stadium was absolutely dreadful and despite only being 7 miles from my hotel, it took over 2 hours to get there. Once nearing the stadium there were so many roads closed off it became absolute chaos, as they tried to channel everyone towards the car parks. In the end I parked on the front of a small shop/garage frontage, where they were much more organised and only charging $20. It was about 15 minutes walk to the stadium from here, but after the game it was a case of turning right at the first traffic lights and heading north.

One thing that was impressive though, was the crowd. A new high for me for a friendly match, although I somehow think this will be short lived.

F.C. Internazionale v Paris Saint-Germain

International Champions Cup

Sunday 24th July 2016

Kick off 14.00 Actual 14.05

F.C. Internazionale 1 Paris Saint-Germain 3,  attendance 24,147

14′ 0-1 S. Aurier

45′ + 3, 1-1 S. Jovetic (pen)

61′ 1-2 L. Kurzawa

87′ 1-3 S. Aurier

@ Autzen Stadium

2700, Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard

Eugene, OR 97401

Admission $30 + $3 fee + $3.50 Will Call ticket

No programme.

Eugene was a further 70 miles south on I-5 from my overnight base. Arriving early meant be able to park within 200-300 yards of the stadium at a cost of $25. The ticket office was on the corner nearest the parking, so my ticket was soon collected. I was quite surprised at the number of ticket touts milling around and even more so considering there were 30,000 empty seats, which was a really poor turnout. Not sure what sort of trade they drum up when tickets are so readily available.

Autzen Stadium, which opened in 1967, is home to University Oregon Ducks American Football team. Capacity is 54,000 seated, but holds 59,000 with standing room. The record attendance stands at 60,055 for the visit of Arizona State University Sun Devils in October 2011.

Inter were not exactly full of household names, although I was familiar with Jovetic due to his spell at Manchester City and perhaps much better known was their coach Roberto Mancini. P.S.G., on the other hand, had their Brazilian contingent and Frenchman Hatem Ben Arfa in their starting eleven, with Pastore, Cavani and di Maria coming off the bench. They always looked in control, even when Inter drew level, going on to win comfortably.

After the match I had plenty of time to do the 121 miles back to Portland International Airport. My flight was not until just before 1 am, but with the 2 hour time difference to gain back it meant I was still in the house before 6am.

Salem-Keizer Volcanoes v Everett Aquasox

Minor League Baseball

Short-Season Class A

Northwest League

Saturday 23rd July 2016

First pitch 18.35

Salem-Keizer Volcanoes 5 Everett Aquasox 8,  attendance 1,949

@ Volcanoes Stadium

6700, Field Of Dreams Way Northeast

Keizer, OR 97303

$12 Admission

No programme.

It was an easy 46 miles drive down the I-5 to Keizer, allowing time to check in at my hotel a couple more junctions south of the stadium exit off the highway.

Volcanoes Stadium, nicknamed ‘Oregon’s Field of Dreams’, was opened in 1997 and has a capacity of 4,254. The team moved to Salem-Keizer in 1997 and have since won five Northwest League Championships, the last one being in 2009.


Portland Timbers v Los Angeles Galaxy

Major League Soccer

Saturday 23rd July 2016

Kick off 12.30 Actual 12.58

Portland Timbers 1 Los Angeles Galaxy 2,  attendance 21,144

7′ 0-1 R. Keane

11′ 0-2 G. Zardes

41′ 1-2 Z. Valentin

@ Providence Park

1844, Southwest Morrison Street

Portland, OR 97205

Admission $35, fees included, Print at home ticket.

Programme free, 52 pages.

Portland Timbers are probably the only club in the M.L.S. who genuinely sell out their matches. Knowing this meant being on the ball for when tickets were going on sale. I actually phoned the club 2 days prior to the release date for this match, just to confirm the actual time they would go on sale and was surprised to be able to book a ticket over the phone immediately. Three days later I still hadn’t received my tickets via e-mail as promised, but a call to the club saw this rectified within a couple of minutes and they even phoned me back a few minutes later to make sure everything had come through ok. Excellent service. The early kick off also meant that I couldn’t rely on a morning flight arriving on schedule, so I decided to fly in on Friday evening instead, just in case.

Once again, but far worse than normal, the match eventually kicked off 28 minutes late. I don’t know if this was anything to do with a problem with the stadium opening less than an hour prior to kick off following an electronic fault with the turnstiles. No announcement was made, so not sure. As for the teams, when it came to Portland, I have to say I hadn’t heard of a single player, whereas LA had half a dozen I knew of, which didn’t include Steven Gerrard or Ashley Cole, neither of whom even made the squad.

If you only ever visit one stadium in the M.LS. then this is the one to do. A fantastic atmosphere from start to finish, a tight old stadium that has been adapted from baseball  to fit ‘soccer’ very well indeed and seemed like the fans here  actually understand the game. A lightening start by the visitors, which could easily have been doubled, set the game up brilliantly. The Timbers goal just before the break meant the match held the interest ’til the end. With all home games being genuine sell outs, the few tickets available to the general public are what we would call ‘ restricted view’ in England. Over here, the view of the pitch is of no concern to the majority of sports ‘fans’, as they are not there to watch the game, but to eat and drink for a few hours. However, the poor sight lines are easily rectified, as along the back row, beneath the press boxes, it is possible to sit on bare concrete, where the view is excellent and no less comfortable than the bench seating anyway.

The stadium was opened in 1926, as Multnomah Stadium, and has undergone renovations in 1956, 1982, 2001 and 2011, the year the Timbers joined the M.L.S. As stated, all home games are 21,144 capacity sell outs.

The stadium is well located and walkable from Downtown Portland or accessible by the very good public transport system, although I had hired a car, as I would be heading to another sporting event this evening, which was ideally situated en route to my destination on Sunday afternoon. I had parked maybe 200-300 yards from the stadium, for a reasonable $20, which ensured a trouble free exit from the city.

Swope Park Rangers v Oklahoma City Energy F.C.

United Soccer League

Western Conference

Tuesday 12th July 2016

Kick off 19.30 Actual 19.36

Swope Park Rangers 0 Oklahoma City Energy F.C. 2,  attendance 1,223

84′ 0-1

89′ 0-2

@ Children’s Mercy Victory Field at Swope Soccer Village

6310, Lewis Road

Kansas City, MO 64132

$15 admission

Team sheet free, double sided.

Today started off with a visit to the Fantastic Caverns near Springfield, before heading north for lunch at a Mexican restaurant then on to the Harry S Truman Dam Visitor Center. It was then a nice easy drive to the stadium.

Swope Park Rangers are an affiliate of Sporting Kansas City of the M.L.S. They were announced as the U.S.L.’s 30th franchise in October 2015.  Swope Soccer Village is a 9 pitch complex, the main pitch being the 3,557 capacity Children’s Mercy Victory Field.

As for the game, it was pretty poor stuff, with the two late goals making it look better than it really was. Another one where they just make up an attendance and the more ridiculous the better, it would seem. I counted 402, so don’t know where the other 800 odd were hiding.

After the match it was back to the airport to drop off the hire car which finished my stint of the driving. A shuttle to our booked hotel, before the real fun started. We arrived  just before 11pm and despite having a booking confirmation, were told we had no booking, although we had missed one 3 nights earlier. The girl on the desk said she couldn’t authorise another 2 rooms for us, unless we paid again and claimed the money back. She then spent an hour and a half on her mobilephone to trying to sort it out. Finally, just after 12.30 am, we were given rooms. Not good when we had to be on the 4am shuttle back to the airport as we were all on the first flights of the day, me to Dallas, the other three to La Guardia.

Springfield Cardinals v San Antonio Missions

Minor League Baseball

Double-A Class

Texas League

Monday 11th July 2016

First pitch 18.30

Springfield Cardinals 3 San Antonio Missions 8 (12 innings),  attendance 3,044

@ Hammons Field

955, East Trafficway Street

Springfield, MO 65802

$10 Admission

Game Information Sheet, free, 6 pages.

With only one of my three mates being a driver, I took my turn behind the wheel today to give him a break. After a look round Independence, which didn’t take long, it was a 170 mile drive south east to Springfield for our evenings entertainment.

Springfield Cardinals are an affiliate of St. Louis Cardinals of M.L.B. having taken  the position occupied by the Tennessee Smokies prior to the 2005 season. Springfield themselves were originally the El Paso Diablo franchise.

Home is at Hammons Field, which opened in 2004, currently shared with the Missouri State University Bears. Capacity is 10,486, with 7,986 seated.

We thought we’d be finished easily by 9.30pm, but that soon came and went. First time I have been at a baseball match that has gone to the 12th innings, the scores tied at 3-3 at the end of the ninth.

Sporting Kansas City v New York City F.C.

Major League Soccer

Sunday 10th July 2016

Kick off 19.00 Actual 19.18

Sporting Kansas City 3 New York City F.C. 1,  attendance 19,881

8′ 1-0 B. Feilhaber

14′ 1-1 F. Lampard

16′ 2-1 J. Medranda

51′ 3-1 I. Opara

@ Children’s Mercy Park

1, Sporting Way

Kansas City, KS 66111

Admission $43 + $9.90 fees, Print at home ticket.

Team sheet free, single card, printed double sided.

It was a comfortable drive from the baseball, with free parking across the road at Kansas Motor Speedway, no more than 5. Minutes walk from the stadium.

It has to be said, even by American standards, this is an awful name for a stadium, having originally being named Livestrong Sporting Park, then plain old Sporting Park, since it opened in 2011. Then again, as long as a large enough chunk of money is thrown at the club, then there is no interest whatsoever in what Sponsors name it is given.  How long before we see a Hemorrhoid Stadium or Viagra Park ? The stadium actually seats 18,467, but capacity is set at 21,000 for SKC matches with standing room. There certainly looked less than the quoted crowd for tonights game.

It started off pretty well, but tailed off badly in the second half. Before the game, I have to say I didn’t recognise any player listed for SKC and despite having the misfortune of seeing NYCFC a couple of times previously, it was still only Pirlo, Villa and a slightly less overweight than last time, Lampard that rang a bell. I still don’t know how  the visitors are challenging for the title, as once again they were dire. Then again, the M.L.S. as a whole is of a very poor standard anyway, so a team wouldn’t necessarily need to have any quality to finish top of the pile.

After the match we headed east, to Independence, MO, as a couple of our party liked the sound of the place. At night, it looked deserted and unwelcoming, but we booked into a hotel and found somewhere to eat, so at least it ticked a couple of boxes. Perhaps it would look better in daylight.