The Bay Area’s Summer of Soccer

The Bay Area’s Summer of Soccer
A general view of play during the International Champions Cup match between Liverpool FC and AC Milan at Levi's Stadium. (Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
It was an amazing goooooaaaaal time in the Bay Area as the giants of the soccer world the Liverpool FC and AC Milan showcased their mastery at Levi’s Stadium, the home of the five-time Superbowl Champion San Francisco 49ers. Veni, vidi, vici—they came, they saw, they conquered—as Liverpool FC’s Fab Eleven won 2–0 over Italian club AC Milan at Levi’s Stadium. I was hoping for Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and Andrea Bocelli to sing the international anthems, but….a girl can dream, right?
Adding to the excitement and the star power of this international event in the heart of Silicon Valley, and following the recent game between English Premier League’s Arsenal FC and Major League Soccer Earthquakes team at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, Calif., millions of passionate fans now follow two ball sports—one the favorite of Americans and the other the favorite of the world.
Not since the British invasion of the Fab Four in 1964 with the Beatles historic TV appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in New York and their final performance at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, this summer of soccer in The Bay Area was the overwhelmingly welcoming British invasion in more than 50 years. Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!
Saturday night fever exhilarated and thrilled the U.S. soccer fans as the Liverpool FC team, attired in a specially designed for this tour bright lime green uniforms dubbed as “Toxic and Thunder” exhibited their brilliance in a splashy win over AC Milan. California’s beautiful sunshine on this late afternoon set the unforgettable stage for something the Liverpudlians can only dream about.
Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana, right, works for control against AC Milan defender Luca Antonelli during an International Champions Cup soccer match. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana, right, works for control against AC Milan defender Luca Antonelli during an International Champions Cup soccer match. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
As the sea of red filled the Levi’s stadium, the thousands of Liverpool fans were surprised and quite disappointed not to see the team’s players wear their traditional red uniforms. As the story goes the LFC’s Manager Bill Shankly, thought his team would carry a psychological impact of being more intimidating wearing all red uniform. “Red for danger and red for powerhence named the REDS” in 1964.  Now the team wears red uniforms when playing at home, black on the road and the new bright lime green for this tour…
I was very privileged to meet up at the posh Four Seasons Hotel in Palo Alto with Ian Rush and Gary McAllister, the Liverpool FC’s legendary Ambassadors of Soccer and Goodwill, who kindly spared a few moments out of their hectic schedules to chat with me. The hotel’s lobby never looked so colorful, young, and vibrant bringing team’s joie de vivre to the intimidating atmosphere mostly known as the Silicon Valley’s high tech venture capitalists nest.
Ian Rush, LFC’s Ambassador and Television Soccer Pundit.
The Wales native is regarded as one of the greatest ever Liverpool players and the club’s all-time leading goalscorer.
Gary McAllister, LFC’s Ambassador and TV Broadcaster
Retired Scottish professional soccer player, primarily as a midfielder, with a successful career spanning over nineteen years. “God’s children are from Scotland,” he introduced himself to me. One thing for sure the LFC’s Ambassadors have a great sense of humor.
Q: What are the duties of an Ambassador?
Rush: As the Liverpool FC Ambassador, I promote our club and serve as the liaison between the club’s players, the fans and the community at-large. It’s a true honor and a privilege to serve as an Ambassador.
McAllister: I enjoy mentoring our club’s young players. I also make many appearances on behalf of the LFC.
Q: What is the purpose of the International Champions Cup?
Rush: The importance of this tour is to connect fans around the globe. The stadium in Liverpool holds close to 50,000 spectators, but this tour opens games to wider audiences in the U.S.  It also creates a bigger fan base for the soccer in America. In England fans know the game, in U.S. they love the game.
McAllister: It is very important to meet and play for our fans in the United States. It also serves as a preparation training for the players’ new season, especially playing against a very good professional team as AC Milan.
Q: How important is it for a young player to have a mentor?
Rush: Extremely important. As a mentor on the LFC team I share with them my experience as a player and I try to make the transition easier for them from the amateur stage of playing the game to the demanding life as a professional player. You can not buy experience.
McAllister: To have a mentor is a gift for any young player. My advice to them: Be like a sponge, always learn and always listen.
Q: Do you watch women’s soccer?
Rush: Absolutely. We support and work closely with the Liverpool Ladies football club. Their games are very popular and well attended. The LFC team is proud of our partnership.
McAllister: Definitely. We created a special program and partnership between the LFC and a number of women’s soccer teams. 
LFC’s Ambassadors on the go:
  • Liverpool FC Ambassadors Robbie Fowler and Ian Rush attended a Special Olympics USA Soccer Clinic to show their support for the charity and the Liverpool FC Foundation.
  • Fowler and Rush attended the Soccer Clinic at Bellamarine College in San Jose to join in with football coaching for over 30 participants with additional needs.
  • LFC Ambassador, Robbie Fowler and LFC Legend Luis Garcia took in some of San Francisco’s famous sights when they paid a special visit to Fisherman’s Wharf, dipping their toes into San Francisco’s unique culture. The duo visited the famous Crab Wheel sign before fueling up on a bowl of Clam Chowder at the Franciscan Crab, a San Francisco institution. They then took in the historic sights of Ghirardelli square, paying a visit to the famous Ghirardelli Chocolate Shop.
  • Street Soccer USA: LFC Soccer Clinic with children and young people Tenderloin Children’s Playground, San Francisco
My special personal affinity to Liverpool started in 1964 when my husband and I studied and worked at Birmingham University in Birmingham, England, and where our son Mark met his Godfather David Marshall who lived in Liverpool and who was my parents close friend. David showed us his beloved city and all the dives where the Beatles started singing before becoming the Fab Four.
The International Champions Cup in its fourth year, is held in 10 U.S. cities, featuring eight of the world’s biggest European soccer teams. The International Champions Cup is an exhibition competition that helps Europe’s top clubs get ready for their season which begins in August. The ICC attracted Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Internationale, surprise Cinderella English Premier League winner Leister City Team, Parris Saint-Germain, and Real Madrid.
  • Liverpool FC participated in a number of pre-season fixtures whilst in the U.S, including two International Champions Cup fixtures against Chelsea and A.C. Milan.
  • July 27: Liverpool F.C. vs. Chelsea F.C.–Rose Bowl; Pasadena, California.
  • Aug 1: Liverpool FC vs AS Roma–Busch Stadium, St Louis
With only two weeks away from the season openers in England and in Italy both the  Liverpool Football Club Manager Jürgen Klopp and AC Milan Manager Vincenzo Montella, use the preseason tour’s games as an overture to orchestrate the new season’s strategy, demanding level of fitness and conceptual plan for healthy and victorious season.
Liverpool will open its English Premier League season on August 14 at Arsenal, and Milan begins at home on August 21 against Torino.
  • Liverpool FC has won 18 league titles, seven FA Cups, eight League Cups, five European Cups, three UEFA Cups and three European Super Cups. Only Real Madrid (10) and AC Milan (7) have won more European Cups than the Reds.
  • AC Milan, owned by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, is Italy’s most successful team with seven Champion League titles.
Lina Broydo writes about travel, art, entertainment, style, and sports. She worked for 22 years as director of public relations at a luxury hotel in San Jose, California, and is currently the president of STAR PR, Public Relations and Marketing Company. She lives in Los Altos Hills, California.