ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) – Soccer is taking over Busch Stadium, as two English Premier League clubs gear up to play an exhibition match on Thursday. It’s Chelsea versus Manchester City.
Chelsea, the designated home team, took to the transformed field Wednesday for a public training session. Roughly 10,000 fans filled Busch Stadium to watch the team practice.
FOX 2 caught up with a few of these fans, many from out of town, as they picked up their free Chelsea flags outside the stadium.
As a testament to soccer’s worldwide appeal, Nicaragua native Cruz Fuentes flew all the way to St. Louis to meet his British buddy for the big game. Fuentes also brought his young son, who has never been to the U.S. He thought this game was a good excuse: “He gets to see his first major league game and his first soccer game, so that’s awesome.”
It’s the first Premier League match for a lot of these fans, including Felix Graham from Ghana. For him, the timing couldn’t have been better, since he just started school in Cape Girardeau.
“I love soccer, and Chelsea happens to be my favorite club,” he says, “I move here to the United States and then within 9 months, Chelsea`s actually coming to St. Louis. Yeah, it was awesome.”
Other fans didn’t have to fly quite as far, but share the same excitement. Tim Sheehan from Georgia came to watch the game with his soccer enthusiast son. He explains, “Usually you’d have to travel to England, and all the expense flying there and staying there and all that, but here, to get to see them in the US, is just a real treat.”
Chelsea fan Michael Clearly flew in with his wife from New Mexico. He says, “As soon as we found out they were coming to the states, we decided, let’s get some tickets.”
As fans of all ages and nationalities get into the football festivities, many of the international Chelsea fans hope more Americans will bleed blue after Thursday’s game, and not just for the Blues.