soccer

Real Madrid and Manchester United played in a Corazon Classic Match in 2012.
User: Never House / Flickr

This year, we’ve heard more about soccer than ever in the U.S. More than 26 million people in the U.S. watched the World Cup in Brazil. And we are just about to get hit with more soccer here in Michigan.

Two of the biggest teams in professional soccer are going to be playing at the football stadium at the University of Michigan. Manchester United and Real Madrid will be playing on Aug. 2 in Ann Arbor.

Andy Markovits joined us today. He teaches political science at the University of Michigan and has written widely about soccer.

Markovits believes this game will set an attendance record for a soccer match in the U.S.

“I’m expecting a packed stadium.”

Despite the fact that the two teams are playing for commercial reasons, Markovits said the event would give the University of Michigan “a global forum that is second to none.”

“These two different cultures, different languages meeting in one ground… I'm ecstatic to see it in my lifetime,” Markovits said.

* Listen to the interview with Andy Markovits above.

Melanie Kruvelis

The World Cup is over. And even if you weren't rooting for Germany or Argentina, the game was really something to watch. (Germany won, for all the non-sports fans out there.)

In addition to the game itself, the fans are just as fun to watch.

They paint flags on their faces, and scream, and cry a lot. 

Those fans exist outside of Brazil, too. There's an intense support section for the Detroit City Football Club. The minor league soccer team is called Le Rouge, and is in its third season.

Before the game, a lot of fans and supporters go to a bar and rally the troops.

Then the "Northern Guard" march to the stadium. There are smoke bombs, drums, gas masks, megaphones, and a lot of rouge and gold. 

Throughout the entire game, there's chanting -- some of which could never air on public radio.

According to Alex Wright, one of the DCFC co-owners, about 2/3 of the team play for their college team during the school year. The home games at Cass Tech High School began selling out this season, and Friday's game sold out by record numbers. 

Wright said that he and the other co-owners wanted to create the team because they're committed to the city. Wright doesn't believe that soccer is going to save Detroit, but it's just a reason to feel good about what's going on in the city. 

DCFC's season is over now, but fans like "Big Vytau" plan to come back next year -- and probably for a few years after that.

*Listen to the full interview above

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Team USA lost to Germany today at the World Cup in Brazil.  

But Michigan sports bars are counting themselves as winners.

Since the global soccer tournament began, sports bars have been very busy.   

Business at Peppinos in East Lansing usually slows in June as the college crowd thins. But not this year.

Soccer fans have been packing the bar during the World Cup, especially when Team USA is playing.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Soccer fans packed World Cup watch parties across Michigan Monday evening.

In Flint, dozens of people packed a downtown sports bar to cheer Team USA to its 2-1 victory over Ghana.    The watch party doubled as a fundraiser to collect money to help rehab Flint’s 85-year-old Atwood Stadium. 

“It’s encouraging,” says Tom Saxton, Michigan State University’s women’s soccer coach, “The game gets better and better every year in the United States, and we're excited to be a part of it.”

Next up for Team USA is a very strong Portugal team. 

Playing styles of these soccer players from Brazil and Croatia might not reflect their national characteristics.
User: Diário do Nordeste / flickr

Last Thursday afternoon, the 2014 World Cup began as Brazil and Croatia ran out onto the pitch in Brazil. And with that, fans of Association Football (aka “soccer” here in the USA) plunged into a month of the High Holy Days: World Cup action.

Many fans of “the beautiful game” get downright nationalistic as they cheer on their favorite team, whether it be England, Italy, Brazil, Germany, Ivory Coast ... and of course, the U.S., which opens its World Cup bid this evening at 6 against Ghana.

With soccer, there's a lot of credence put into national identities and how teams play. But, if you think the playing style of your favorite team somehow reflects some deep cultural trait of that country, Stateside guest Andy Markovits says think again.

Markovits is a University of Michigan political scientist and lifelong soccer fan. He joined us today to talk about how generalizations of national characteristics can be superficial and dangerous. 

*Listen to the conversation above. 

Steve Carmody

Two of the world's biggest soccer teams are officially coming to Ann Arbor. English champions Manchester United will play Spanish giants Real Madrid in the Big House on Aug.  2. The match is part of an off-season tournament that follows the World Cup in Brazil.

Matthew Lewis / Model D

We mentioned this morning that despite Detroit's troubles, there are plenty of things in the city to cheer about.

One of those things is the Detroit City Futbol Club.

The team just completed an undefeated regular season thanks to skilled players and an enthusiastic fan base who loudly cheer on the team they call "Le Rouge."

The fans are not "hooligans," those people are violent. But the "Northern Guard" (as they are known) do like to set off smoke bombs when the team scores.

Jeep has signed a three-year, $45 million marketing deal with an Italian professional football club. 

The agreement could help the brand make inroads in Europe, where SUVs are uncommon.

The Jeep logo will soon appear on the backs of the jerseys worn by the Italian soccer team Juventus.  The team will also get Jeeps for club use. 

Michigan Radio sports commentator John U. Bacon says it’s an aggressive marketing ploy that will almost certainly boost Jeep’s brand awareness in Europe.