Fenway Park will host a club friendly between Liverpool FC and AS Roma on Wednesday, July 25, in Boston, Mass. The match will air on three ESPN network channels as Liverpool looks poised to sign USA soccer star Clint Dempsey later this week.
Americans may not take much interest in European club soccer, but this wave of activity could certainly spike that interest in the short term. The match on American soil will be broadcast on American TV and could potentially feature an American star player on each side.
Dempsey is not shy about his desire to play for a Champions League club. He has reportedly made it clear that he will not sign a new contract with his current side Fulham (via Goal.com) when his current deal expires after the upcoming season.
According to David Hytner of The Guardian, the website of Liverpool owners, Fenway Sports Group, reported that the club had "added Clint Dempsey to a team that came within a game of winning the FA Cup." The story was later removed from the website.
Fulham is unwilling to let its top scorer leave for an undervalued transfer fee. Dempsey scored 23 goals in all competitions last season. Hytner goes on to report that a bid around £5 million would be "laughed out of the boardroom."
"We have received no offers from any club for Clint Dempsey," a Fulham spokesman said. "We would discourage any club from making a bid for him."
"No offers" does not mean "no discussions."
The Guardian later reported that Liverpool has indeed spoken with Fulham about the 29-year-old American sensation.
"Clint is a player we've inquired about, it is as simple as that," new Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said. "Ian Ayre, our managing director, has spoken with the club to see what the position is."
Who: Liverpool FC vs. AS Roma (Club Friendly)
Where: Fenway Park, Boston, Mass.
When: Wednesday, July 25, 6:30 p.m. EST
Live Stream: ESPN2, ESPN3, ESPN Deportes
Soccer in Baseball Stadiums
The game between Liverpool and Roma is part of Fenway Park's historic 100th anniversary celebration. It will not be the first soccer game played at the home of Major League Baseball's Boston Red Sox, which has featured 18 soccer games since 80,000 fans watched the New York Yankees of the American Soccer League beat Celtic 4-3 in 1931.
Liverpool opened its three-match North American tour with a 1-1 draw against Toronto FC at the Rogers Centre, home of Major League Baseball's Toronto Blue Jays. Promising youngster Adam Morgan scored for the European power in the 69th minute after Quincy Amarikwa gave Toronto a 1-0 lead in the 58th minute.
Liverpool played without many of its stars, including captain Steven Gerrard and England teammates Andy Carroll and Glen Johnson. This allowed the club's younger stars like Morgan, who led Liverpool's U18 side with 21 goals, to take center stage in their preseason debut.
The match against Toronto also came as the managerial debut for Brendan Rogers, who was appointed as Liverpool’s new manager on June 1 following the departure of Kenny Dalglish.
"Friendly Confines" took on a new meaning at Chicago's Wrigley Field when it hosted a club soccer friendly between AS Roma and Zaglebie Lubin on Sunday. Roma cruised to an easy 4-0 win in the first soccer match played at the historic baseball park in nearly 28 years. Roma forward Pablo Daniel Osvaldo scored in the first minute. Three teammates added goals of their own, all before halftime.
Roma features American star Michael Bradley. He made his first trip to Wrigley Field despite growing up in the Chicago area as the son of former USA and Chicago Fire coach Bob Bradley. The midfielder recently agreed to a four-year deal with Roma in a transfer transaction with Italy's Chievo Verona.
Roma Commits to U.S.
AS Roma may become a summer fixture on American soil, according to Chicago Tribune special Jack McCarthy.
McCarthy reports that the Italian side recently signed a seven-year deal with Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex in Kissimmee, Fla., to train and play one friendly. The team likely will use Florida as a base to launch visits to other cities as it builds an enhanced U.S. identity.
"Our deal with Disney is a platform and we're going to be the club-in-residence," said Mark Pannes, Roma's U.S.-based chief executive officer. "We'll bring the entire first squad there every winter break … and I think you'll see us coming to certain anchor cities repeatedly (in summer months).
"We have a very long-term vision to be the most popular (European) club in the U.S.," he said.
Before Liverpool begins the Premiership season, the side first faces either Macedonia's FK Renova or FC Gomel of Belarus in the third qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League. The first leg is set for Aug. 2. The return leg is a week later at Anfield.
Liverpool closes its North American Tour on July 28 against Tottenham Hotspur in Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium. Roma closes its similar tour on July 27 against El Salvador's national team in New York's Red Bull Arena.