April 23, 2008

Starting XI: Best Places in America to Watch Soccer

Whether you're looking for a professional match, a college game or a chance to watch a pickup game, here are the places in the U.S. that Goal.com USA believes are the top destinations.

From Goal.com 

2. Armstrong Stadium (Bloomington, Indiana) -- It's not just the that every seat at Indiana University's house offers a perfect view or that one of the best ever college programs plays here, but Armstrong is also the site of the Cutters' glorious victory in the Little 500 in Breaking Away.

3. Memorial Coliseum (Los Angeles, California) -- Filled up with 80,000 screaming and mariachi-ing Mexicans for a Club America exhibition match, it's as close as you can get to Azteca without running into those wacky Minutemen "guarding" the border. And the uneasy feeling that the place is about to collapse just adds to the romanticism.

4. Joseph J. Morrone Stadium (Storrs, Connecticut) - Despite playing most of their matches in frigid temps, UCONN is always amongst the nation's leaders in attendance. In addition to witnessing some of the best soccer played on the college level, fans in a five-mile radius are able to hear the unmistakable voice of Ray Reid ring through the night air as he rips into one of his wide midfielders.

5. Met Oval (Queens, New York) - Dating back to 1925, it's the oldest soccer field in continuous use in the U.S. Known more for it's endless sun-up to sun-down pickup games for years, this famed complex in the shadow of New York City remains a top destination in the country to see young players develop their skills, whether it be in a elite-level youth match or in a random 5 v. 5 game with barrels as goals.

6. Pizza Hut Park (Frisco, Texas): There's a stage in the corner and the fans don't exactly pack the place, but you can't go wrong with walking Main Street before the game and lounging in the perpetual sun during it. Also, if you've never been to a Dallas Cup, drop everything and book your flight for next spring's competition here.

7. Ludwig Field (College Park, Maryland): The University of Maryland stadium offers a unique view as there are stands directly behind each goal, but raised to crossbar level, which also allows students to harass opposing goalkeepers.

8. Giants Stadium (East Rutherford, N.J.) -- No one's ever there (it's in New Jersey, what would you expect?) which means you can walk right down to the front row and see just how enormous Jozy really is.

9. Blackbaud Stadium (Daniel Island, South Carolina) - The home of the Charleston Battery has a pristine field, the intimacy of a smaller European stadium and a place to have a pint immediately after the match up in the Three Lions Pub.

10. WakeMed Soccer Park (Cary, North Carolina) - Officially, it only seats 7,000 people. But if you've ever been there for a U.S. National Team match or an NCAA Final Four doubleheader, you know that standing room-only is the only term to be applied. Nestled in a suburban town outside of Raleigh, this immaculate complex has several grass fields and is home to one of the top youth clubs in the country (CASL).

11. Your couch on a Saturday: Think about it. You can select your own food and select your own brew. If you have the right television package, you can find games from Italy, Germany, France, Spain, and the top two English divisions. To top it off, you can watch MLS later in the day.