ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-- This may be the first soccer game played at the new Busch Stadium, but a huge soccer rivalry unfolded at the old Busch back in the seventies.
Thursday night's soccer match may go down in history as the largest soccer match ever played on St. Louis soil. The magnitude of that game is starting to take former players from St. Louis University and Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville back to the year 1973 at the old Busch Stadium.
Soccer historians sometimes refer to the early 1970s as the golden age of college soccer in the St. Louis area.
In 1971, the CYC initiated the annual Bronze Boot match between local powerhouse soccer schools, SLU and SUIE.
The rivalry instantly became one unmatched by any other in college soccer.
The bronze boot had such a popular demand from sports fans, the matches took place at old Busch Stadium, and drew national media attention.
In 1972, the two rivals played to a 1-1 draw, a score that still contains some bitterness on the side of the cougars.
The Billikens went on to win the NCAA Division I championship that year, while the Cougars brought home the title in D-II.
The stage was set for the most highly anticipated Bronze Boot match in 1973, when the Cougars entered the game ranked number one in the country.
The second-ranked Billikens scored one goal on the Cougars to win the 1973 Bronze Boot, in a match that went down as the largest soccer match crowd in St. Louis history.
Forty years later, the stage is set for a soccer match at new Busch Stadium, which will see more than double that number of fans in the stands.
The men who played in front of this city's previous record soccer crowd in '73 are hopeful this event will springboard professional soccer into St. Louis permanently.