Written by Adrian Beecher
Denver, CO – For years the 4th of July in American has been synonymous with Fireworks, BBQ’s and Baseball. However, a new Fourth of July tradition has been brewing for a few years in the US surrounding the celebration of the American Holiday, MLS Soccer games.
With 5 games on the MLS schedule this 4th of July, it has marked a coming together of communities across the country. Fans embark to their respective stadium’s to catch the match and then stay afterward and enjoy the fireworks shows put on after. This year’s July 4th matches happened across the footprint of America with games in Atlanta, Minneapolis, Frisco, Denver and Los Angeles.
A place where this has resonated for over 20 years is in Colorado. In the previous 21 seasons of the Colorado Rapids, the largest crowd during the regular season for them has come during their 4th of July match 16 of those 21 seasons. Their 2017 July 4th match was no different as another season high record crowd was expected as they faced off against the Seattle Sounders in a rematch of last season’s Western Conference championship game.
The match did not start off how the Rapid’s fans would have hoped as Clint Dempsey put one past a diving Tim Howard early at Dicks Sporting Goods Park to put the Sounders on top 1-0 in the 7th minute. By halftime, the Sounders were out in front 2-0 as they lit off some fireworks of their own. In the second half, however, after getting multiple chances, the Rapids’ were able to put one in the back of the net to send the crowd into a roar. Never the less, in the end, it was a 3-1 loss for Colorado.
Despite the fact that the Rapid’s didn’t get the result they were looking for on the pitch Tuesday night, it was still a successful community gathering. With 17,432 fans in attendance, they once again eclipsed their highest attendance of the regular season. Also, seeing their community come out to show their support through the entirety of the game and then joining as one on the field after the game to enjoy a fireworks celebration to mark this country’s independence.
Rapid’s head coach Pablo Mastroeni has been with the club since 2002, as a player from 2002 through 2013 and then as a coach since then after a brief stint in LA as a player in the 2013 season. For him, the community feeling of the 4th of July matches have not gone unnoticed. “It’s been impressive. I’ve been here since 2002, and I’ve been able to take part in pretty much every 4th of July experience. I know its been great for at least my family to come to town and take part in this experience.” Said Mastroeni.
The success is no fluke, as the overall growth of the MLS has continued to rise. From 2015 to 2016, the MLS saw a 96% increase in social media engagement across the league. Also, the value of the clubs in the MLS increased 18% from 2015 to 2016. In 2017 the MLS added two new teams with more slated to join in the coming years. As the sport continues to grow in the US, so too will the tradition of the game’s success on Independence Day.
One day, the 4th of July could be synonymous with soccer around the country. So cheers to the successful growth of soccer in this country and cheers to this great nation. Who would have known that soccer and the 4th of July would be a perfect match?
Coach Mastroeni summed it up perfectly, “I think it is a celebration every time we step on the field. It brings families together; it brings cultures together, especially when you’re celebrating the Independence of the United State’s. So I think it’s a fantastic experience for any sports fan. In particular, the soccer fans that have been coming out to this game and making it a special game in the community. And I think it will be one of the most special games on the 4th in Colorado for years to come.”