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Beline Obeid

Manchester wins at U-M


August 21, 2014
Michigan, as a whole has been starving for records of the good kind.

On Aug. 2 those who packed into The Big House in Ann Arbor were a part of history.

Two soccer giants involved in the Guinness International Champions Cup, Real Madrid of Spain's La Liga, and Manchester United, of the English Barclay's Premier League, squared off in what was the largest attended soccer game in U.S. history at 109,318, with The Red Devils of Manchester prevailing 3-1.

"That's only a mini-football Saturday," joked Ariana Castillo, student at the University of Michigan and University Liggett High School graduate.

That's more people than the memorable night game between Michigan and Notre Dame.

A lot of the fans in attendance were from the state, but a fair amount of fans, and media, came from Kentucky, Texas and California, and as far as Germany, Japan and England.

The excitement about the event was almost immediate.

As soon as Relevent Sports released details about the event to the public, it was sold out.

It was one of the hottest tickets in the history of Michigan events. Adding to the local aspect of the event was the home team for the day, Manchester United, reached out to local semi-pro club, Detroit City FC, to help spread cheer throughout the city.

ManU gave a few seats to some of the Detroit City faithful in their suite section as a way to help grow the game throughout the state, while also helping to garner more exposure to the up-and-coming club.

"I think this game has allowed people to have a greater appreciation for soccer in the state of Michigan," said Castillo, who played soccer at University Liggett. "The volume of attendance at the game and buzz around the game shows that people do love the game, and that it can be just as great of an experience as a football game here."

Not only were the fans excited, but so were the players.

Darren Fletcher and Danny Welbeck of Manchester United were both excited to be in Michigan as they spoke at an event downtown in the Renaissance Center.

"We've heard a lot about it, the Big House," said Fletcher. "We're expecting 109,000-110,000, we've been told. I've heard about the special atmosphere there, and let's hope we can make it a special atmosphere with the football match."

"It's going to be the biggest crowd I've ever played in front of," said Welbeck, who was a forward for the English National Team. "It's going to be an unbelievable occasion.

"It will be special for each and every one of us. The biggest stadium in America. What an amazing experience."

The managers of each team were thankful for the fans in attendance.

"Within 14 days, we have played for more than 300,000 fans, and that's amazing," Manchester United Manager Louis Van Gaal said. "We also had a chance to meet the American fans of ours, so that's a very good point."

Manchester later went on to win the ICC Title against Liverpool, two nights later in Miami.

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