For those burnt out on Destro Watch and all other manner of rumor mongering, there is an actual match today, with actual Roma players, actually playing football, as Roma's U.S. tour kicks off today against Polish side Zaglebie Lubin.
Chicago's Wrigley Field plays host to the first leg of the U.S. tour, with games to follow in Boston (July 25th) and New York (July 27th) against Liverpool and the El Salvador National Team, respectively.
Built in 1914, Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs, is the second oldest major league ballpark in existence, behind only Fenway Park, which is two years older and coincidentally plays host to the next stop on Roma's tour. Famous for its hand operated score board, ivy covered walls and abhorrence for night games (lights were only introduced in 1988), Wrigley field has played host to soccer matches in the past, having been a part-time home to The Chicago Sting of the North American Soccer League during the late 1970s and early 1980s.
So while the baseball history at Wrigley Field is immense, including Babe Ruth's famous "called shot" from 1932, the football legacy is rather sparse, but that is part of the brilliance of this tour. A team the caliber of Roma playing in the U.S. will generate hype in and of itself, but playing at America's last great baseball shrines, Wrigley Field and Fenway Park, adds an additional layer of spectacle and uniqueness to the tour.
Where else could Francesco Totti grace the same stages once held by baseball legends Ted Williams and Ernie Banks? And while Zaglebie Lubin might not be world beaters, one could argue this was a calculated move, as Chicago has a sizeable Polish-American community. If nothing else, credit Thomas DiBenedetto and company for their mastery of modern marketing.
As both a Chicago Cubs and A.S. Roma fan, I never would have imagined these two worlds would collide, so to the members of our community in attendance today, enjoy the experience and take lots of pictures!
For our American readers, the game is being broadcast on Fox Soccer Channel at 3:30PM EST.