Downtown welcomes new and old soccer fans

Guest blog post by Tony Allegretti, director of Downtown engagement, JAX Chamber

Major League Soccer game taking place this Wednesday at EverBank Field.
Major League Soccer will take place this Wednesday night at EverBank Field. Kick-off is 6 p.m.

I’m a big soccer fan. Like, really big. I grew up playing the sport, and I still play (on the Burrito Gallery Over 30 B). My boy plays, and we love to watch it on television and in person, when possible. On the special occasions when there is a big match in Jacksonville, we are always there.

And we’ll be the first dudes in line at merchandise table when the kits and scarves go on sale for JAX’s own NASL team. They’ll announce the name of the team and colors next Tuesday, February 18, and then there will be a huge launch party for the community at The Jacksonville Landing, Thursday, February 20.

Soccer in Jacksonville, especially Downtown Jacksonville, is no joke. When I first moved here, I went and watched our U.S. Men’s National Team destroy Germany at then Altell Stadium in a major upset. Fast forward a dozen years, and you might have caught U.S.A. vs. Scotland at EverBank Field. If you were there, you made history, as it was the largest USMNT game by attendance in the South. Our television ratings of the Euro are consistently high, sometimes in the top 10, and we’re only the 47th largest television market.

Jacksonville is so ready for soccer. And we’ve got an opportunity this Wednesday! Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill will be in town as the MLS’ New York Red Bulls takes on Maurice Edu and the Philadelphia Union. If your household knows anything about soccer, you know that these are household names. Edu is almost a sure lock to represent the U.S. in Brazil for the World Cup in June. Henry is a legend, almost single-handedly bringing French football and Arsenal (London) back to prominence.

If you have kids that love soccer, or you just need an excuse to learn more about the beautiful game, you’ll definitely want to be at the Downtown game on Wednesday night. I’ll see you there!