Open Letter to All San Diego Soccer FansA call to arms for local fans to come out and support your country and your city
by Ryan Ginard | Wednesday, June 12, 2013
July 5, 2013. Mark it in your diaries and don’t underestimate its significance on the future of soccer in San Diego.
The July 1 announcement by U.S. Soccer that Jurgen Klinsmann's team will face CONCACAF rival Guatemala in San Diego came out of the blue and will be the squad’s only warm-up game before the start of the 2013 Gold Cup.
Kickoff at Qualcomm Stadium is set for 8 p.m. PST, and the match will be broadcast nationally on the NBC Sports Network and UniMas (hopefully MLS franchise owner-in-waiting David Beckham has cable).
Either Sunil Gulati reads my Soccer Newsday column or the heads of US Soccer are flirting with America’s Finest City once again. The official statement below rings true, but it’s the last line of Klinsmann’s words that we should be taking note of as a soccer community because we would have to be naïve in thinking this is nothing short of a challenge from US Soccer for San Diego to step up and be counted on the national stage.
"This is a very important opportunity for us to get in a good game before the start of the Gold Cup," Klinsmann said in a statement. "We are thrilled to get back to San Diego which has such an outstanding soccer tradition."
There is no doubt San Diego has an outstanding soccer tradition, but it’s time we as fans step away from the past and take this opportunity with both hands to secure our future.
On the weekend of July 5 to 7, San Diego will be the epicenter of USA soccer. Everyone will be watching and everyone will be judging, so let’s give them the best indication yet that we are ready for the big games, the big teams and perhaps the big leagues (a potential franchise in NASL/MLS).
I mention the whole weekend as the following evening (Saturday, July 6) Club America play Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente in a past vs. present Liga MX champions friendly at the 42,445 capacity Petco Park in San Diego. In other words, it’s a soccer smorgasbord and we are all invited.
Whether the date and city of this friendly was intentional to take advantage of the crowds coming to this Xolos game or whether it will be a poor decision to the detriment of both crowds is yet to be seen, and for those cynics out there stating the obvious – yes it’s a friendly, yes it’s Guatemala (currently ranked 60 places below the USMNT at 88) and yes they only gave us one month to organize a babysitter for a Friday night – we need to look to the positives and opportunities of such a spectacle and embrace it.
So why an open letter? Well, this is a call to arms. This is our chance to showcase our city and our supporters to a national audience and its administrators and to start a new conversation about the benefits of growing the game in San Diego. Heck, if a billionaire soccer supporter goes “Hey you know what, San Diego would be a great place to build a team” then we have done our job.
This will be the first time San Diego has hosted the US Men’s National Team (USMNT) since 2006 when the US played Canada at the University of San Diego’s Torero Stadium. Funnily enough it will also see the USA continue its search for a first-ever victory in the city having posted a 0-5-2 record in its past 7 contests.
San Diego can show its suitability as a true soccer destination with a huge turnout for not one, but both games that weekend, and start a new narrative about the game based on the future and not be beholden or remembered solely by the successes of the past.
There is no doubt that if these games are successful, San Diego will fire itself into the forefront of US and MLS administrators thoughts, will see far more frequent visits of our sporting idols and other opportunities such as becoming one of the first World Cup venues chosen should the US submit further bids post 2022.
So how can you as a fan make an impact? Well that’s the easy part, invite all your friends and family to the game, host a tailgating party on Friday night at the Q, encourage local bars to have pre & post game celebrations, tweet and post frantically about the game to show not only your pride of town and country, but to bring awareness of the game. Make banners, paint your face and create an atmosphere unlike anything seen here before. Anything and everything will help.
We have got what we have asked for. Group tickets are now on sale. I’m getting 20 people, are you?