Tottenham Hotspur Take San Diego by Storm
The match was a part of each team's preseason tour, and offered a chance for supporters of two of the world's most prestigious football clubs to play in front of far flung fans half a world away form their bases in North London and Rome. Tottenham recorded a comfortable victory, running out 4-1 winners in a glorified training exercise in which players are focused on regaining fitness and staking their claims for starting places in the competitive season that is just weeks away.
With the World Cup Final a mere 10 days in the distance and the start of European seasons two weeks ahead, soccer's omnipresent identity has never been more evident than on Wednesday night when thousands gathered on a warm summer evening to witness some of the world's most elite players run around.
According to Ben Forman, the Chairman of the San Diego Spurs supporters group that regularly meets at The Harp in Ocean Beach, just under 200 hundred tickets were sold to the San Diego Spurs group alone, with several hundred more allocated to sister groups from across the United States and as far away as Amsterdam and Norway.
Spurs fans will no doubt be sauntering around town today, emboldened by their side's comprehensive victory, but for many of them the match was about less than the result and more about the camaraderie and communion on offer.
"Results in preseason don’t matter at all," explained Forman. "These tours are about the fans. We get to meet people from all over and have a huge party. It’s incredible."
The San Diego Spurs group was treated to an extra special surprise by Spurs Manager Mauricio Pochettino, who ambushed a pitchside interview with the club's in-house TV channel.
Some attendees travelled from far and wide for this game while others came from just up the road. Caitlin Winder, a native San Diegan who resides in the Bay Park area isn't a soccer fan, but grew up going to the same stadium with the other football in mind.
A self-described "neutral" when it comes to soccer, Winder described her first time watching soccer in Mission Valley as, "fun to watch. I saw every single goal and I enjoyed it."
Winder blames her burgeoning appreciation for the game on a number of things, notably a long friendship with yours truly, but more realistically, being in Mexico City during the 2018 World Cup match where the Mexican National Team defeated the then-champions Germany in a helter-skelter match for the ages.
It is no small thing to replace football with soccer, but Winder's experience with the beautiful game is one that is being replicated rapidly around San Diego. Weeks ago during the World Cup Final, a viewing party in the heart of North Park drew over 10,000 fans for a game that kicked off at 8:00 am, and it is now customary for 8,000 or so fans to venture across the San Diego Tijuana border on weekends to watch Club Tijuana Xolos face off with top-flight teams from across Mexico's Liga MX professional league.
A locally produced documentary about Club Tijuana, affectionately dubbed Club Sin Fronteras or The Club with no Borders has been circulating on television for the first time, and there seems to be a general shift in the perception that professional soccer could work in San Diego if the SoccerCity project is approved by voters in November of this year.
The folks from North London certainly enjoyed their stay in town.
"Feedback about San Diego was fantastic," concluded Forman. "Loads of people were commenting on how they want to come back on vacation. The club seemed pleased with the city as well."
Despite the apparent pleasure with the city of San Diego, one Spurs club official said that SDCCU Stadium was the worst stadium he had ever seen in his life. Hard to understand how such a beautiful city can be home to such a dump of a stadium, but hopefully that changes come November when the election is held.