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The World’s Game Comes to Pittsburgh

Franco Harris.  Bill Mazeroski.  Mario Lemieux. Terry Bradshaw.  Roberto Clemente.  Sidney Crosby.

All of these iconic athletes put Pittsburgh on the sporting map.  And on July 27, 2014 that list of incredible athletes will get a little longer when AC Milan and Manchester City roll into town for the Guinness International Champions Cup.

“Fans will get to see two of the most storied clubs in Europe,” local promoter Peter Smith stated. “They will have the ability to see Yaya Toure, David Silva, Sergio Aguero, and Mario Balotelli.”

That’s right, the stars of the World Cup in Brazil are headed right for the Steel City.

It’s literally been years since Pittsburgh has hosted a match like this, ten years to be precise. Chelsea blanked AS Roma 3-0 in front of over 25,000 fans at Heinz Field on July 29, 2004.

Smith says things are different this time around.  He should know as he helped organize the Chelsea/Roma match back in 2004.

He points out that the sport has grown so much in terms of popularity and that that fans and supporters are much more in tune with the global game. Young players are talking about the big leagues and wearing the jerseys of Messi and Ronaldo.  The interest level from those 18-34 is at an all-time high.  It’s not surprising considering that the EPL and Serie A are some of the most popular sports offerings on TV and in the media. And 2014 is a World Cup year, one that is likely to break records for viewership.

Smith also points out that this is a “real” game, a competitive match.  This is not a vacation or a chance to check out the state of the American game.  Man City is gearing up for the EPL season, starting league play less than two weeks later.

There are plenty of reasons to be excited and that feeling is shared by everyone involved with the match, including those within the Steelers organization.

“We are looking forward to hosting two of the most respected European soccer clubs at Heinz Field this summer when Manchester City and A.C. Milan play on July 27,” Communications Coordinator Burt Lauten added. “Heinz Field has hosted a number of major events, and we are thrilled to be able to showcase our stadium and the city of Pittsburgh as part of the Guinness International Cup.”

This match is the start of something big for the Pittsburgh soccer community. It’s about bringing the best of the global game to Western Pennsylvania, growing a soccer hotbed into a soccer wonderland.

Perhaps this will inspire Pittsburgh footballers to join the ranks of the all-time greats in a city built on championships. Maybe Riverhounds stars Collins John and Jose Angulo will be the next Harris and Bradshaw or Mazeroski and Clemente.  Perhaps Fort Pitt Regiment will produce the next great pro, right in our backyard.

Greatness begins on July 27, but its impact felt for years to come.  Tickets for groups of 15 or more can be ordered through PA West Soccer, while individual tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster.