Guinness International Champions Cup 2014
Guinness International Champions Cup 2014
The preseason is a time for extensive fitness regimens, wrinkles in the playbook, welcoming new players, a little bit of fun, and of course, hugs. Warm, intimate, unabated hugs.
Cristiano Ronaldo was on the receiving end last night during the International Champions Cup final, after a young fan ran onto the pitch to spend some quality time in the arms of his idol. The young man, who benefited from an alarmingly unresponsive security team, whispered sweet nothings into Ronaldo’s ear for a good twenty seconds before the star of the evening (CR7 scored two great goals to lead Real Madrid to the title) helped direct him back to the sidelines, visibly touched by what he heard.
We couldn’t possibly know what was said, but judging by Ronaldo’s face, it was probably something to the effect of “You totally should have won every Ballon d’Or over Messi.”
This is the second instance this summer where a fan was barely stopped from reaching their idols. A few weeks ago, a die-hard Didier Drogba fan had to be dragged off the pitch by the Ivorian striker himself during a friendly match in Shrewsbury.
Meanwhile, no fans ran up to hug Jose Mourinho, who before the match took a stab at his former player by saying he is not “the real Ronaldo” (the Brazilian). Not feeling so special now, are we Jose?
The International Champions Cup has not only been a great opportunity for American fans to enjoy their favorite European stars in action, but also a chance for those players to try their hands at American sports.
We’ve already seen Andrea Pirlo and Leonardo Bonucci fool around on the football field, and who could forget this classic:
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers)
Out of the bunch, Balotelli seems the closest to having his talents translate to other sports, as these thunderous jams above prove. Maybe Super Mario and Steve Nash, who’s proven he can keep up on the soccer pitch, can coordinate a brief player swap next season?
Think back to a time when there were no preseason tournaments, no trophies to play for on baseball fields, and clubs simply resorted to friendlies against cupcake opponents as way to get ready for the season. How dull!
Thanks to the International Champions Cup (ICC), Los Angeles became the latest of US cities to host the newest — and really the most compelling — of preseason competitions. On Saturday night, it did not disappoint.
Four teams from four countries — Real Madrid, Juventus, Everton, and the hometown LA Galaxy — offered fans an entertaining night of soccer and, more importantly, the unique opportunity to see their favorite players in the flesh. While some preseason fixtures fall flat due to teams’ unwillingness to trot out their best sides, the International Champions Cup delivered.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Tim Howard, Andrea Pirlo and Landon Donovan all played at least one half to the clear approval of the fans. Every Ronaldo step-over was greeted with a rising ensemble of “ooh’s” and “aah’s.” USA chants rang out every time Howard touched the ball, and ladies in every section fainted at the sight of Pirlo’s herculean beard (okay, that last part was made up. Maybe. You really can’t be sure.)
The fans’ enthusiasm at Dodger Stadium was heard and felt throughout the night, and the players returned the favor with some fine showmanship. Ronaldo’s bravado was on full display, Howard made some truly outstanding saves, and the late consolation match between Juventus and LA was a high-energy affair thanks to LA taking the play to the Italian champions. In other words: the fans most definitely got their money’s worth.
The tournament also provided some unintentionally funny moments; Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez celebrating his goal against Gigi Buffon as if it was a World Cup final; the referee getting booed mercilessly for cutting a half 30 seconds short; Real Madrid’s Kaka — merely a rotation player now — receiving by far the loudest cheers of the night. It were those quirky moments within the competition that reminded us it’s still the preseason (well, except for LA). Yet, they also added to the charm of the International Champions Cup.
In the end, there will be one champion lifting up a trophy. But to the fans, the media, and maybe even some of the players, Saturday night could be summed up by one thought: is the preseason supposed to be this much fun?
ICC: Real Madrid vs Everton
It’s not every day that a fan makes his way onto the field without getting caught by security in just a few seconds, and only the most talented of pitch invaders can manage to get their foot on the ball, or their hands on a player. But a pitch invader actually taking a penalty kick in the middle of a shootout, well, that’s got to be a first.
After last night’s International Champions Cup match between Everton and Juventus went into sudden death penalty kicks, a fan ran onto the pitch just as Juve’s Kwadwo Asamoah was stepping up to his kick and beat him to it. Everton’s Tim Howard was rather unimpressed, nonchalantly catching the ball that was, to be fair, hit right at him.
Sure, it wasn’t the best-taken penalty, but we doubt the fan cared much either way. It was a funny moment, and we can only tip our hat to the fan’s rambunctiousness. As Ron Burgundy would say, “I’m not even mad, that’s impressive!”
Update: We’re not 100% positive on this one, but we just might have a double offender on our hands. Last year, a man clad in the same headgear and jacket as Wednesday’s pitch invader creatively interrupted an interview with golfer Webb Simpson:
The man was then identified as Andrew James Dudley of England, reportedly a deforestation activist who calls himself, get this, “Jungle Bird.” He wasn’t charged.
Whether or not Jungle Bird got off for this as well, or if it is even him, we can’t know for sure. But you decide for yourself.