JENA (AUGUST 28, 2017) – Setting a record with 3 MLS friendly matches in one trip, BSports – in accordance with sports agency Match IQ – brokered and organized the preseason training camp for Eintracht Frankfurt (Frankfurt) in the United States this past July. Matches were scheduled against the Seattle Sounders FC on July 8 at CenturyLink Field, San Jose Earthquakes on July 14 at Avaya Stadium and the Columbus Crew SC on July 17 at MAPFRE Stadium. Although previously known for athleticism and resilience, MLS has taken on a new character. The 24-year-old league celebrates a mix of home-grown talent, experienced veterans and fresh international flavour. The quality of domestic and foreign players has boomed, coaches made the game tactically more appealing by incorporating European tactics and viewers can feed on jaw-dropping plays and goals every week. MLS has certainly evolved into a thriving league, rivalling Germany’s 2nd Bundesliga or the English Championship.
The first duel against the Seattle Sounders, also 2016 MLS Cup Champions, ended in a 1-1 draw after 90 minutes in front of 40,667 fans. US National Team star, Timothy Chandler, made an impressive, game-changing cross to Branimir Hrgota, who scored to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead in the 29th minute. However, that did not last long as Chandler’s National Team colleague, Clint Dempsey, scored the tying goal for Seattle just before halftime. Besides being a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to play against a Bundesliga team, a “fast work rate” and “fast style of play” was what impressed Seattle players the most.
The next game tested the Eagles after their long and gruelling 5-day training camp in San Diego. In front of 14,355 spectators, Frankfurt fought against a motivated and more rested San Jose Earthquakes. After several goals, a penalty and few heart stopping plays, the game ended in a 4-1 loss for the Eagles.
At the last US stop, Columbus welcomed Frankfurt to a crowd of 11,301 with a live German choir before the game to sing the national anthem. With the largest German demographic in the MLS, the Columbus Crew came out strong and proved by the 26th minute that they were here to play. Dominating in the second half, Frankfurt picked up the pace and earned several goal scoring opportunities, but were still left with a 1-0 loss going home.
With 15 international players – including Timothy Chandler from the US and Makoto Hasebe from Japan – Frankfurt appealed to the melting pot of devoted soccer fans in the States. Ever since the old days of the San Jose Clash and Dallas Burn, soccer has become a favorite pastime of the young and old, however, interest in European teams has grown as well. In a 2017 study, Bayern Munich was among the top 10 most popular European teams in North America and also shortly behind Manchester United and FC Barcelona.
Solidifying the 3-game preseason camp for this summer came at the right time when the club wanted to break onto the American scene. In 2016, only FC Mainz 05 and FC Bayern Munich had successful tours across the pond.
Fredi Bobic, CEO of Football for Frankfurt and on-site during the camp, recapped on his experience: “Whether in Seattle, in San José or the last Monday in Columbus, Eintracht was welcomed not only as a guest, but as a great friend. Every official, club employee and every fan gave us the feeling of being unbelievably welcome. It was impressive and confirms to us that the USA was exactly the right goal for our tour”. Recaps of all matches can be seen on the Seattle, San Jose, and Columbus, MLS websites.
© BSports 2017