YANKEE STADIUM SOCCER? A Real Madrid-Inter Milan match-up could happen in the Bronx this summer
By Michael Lewis
When they say "Play Ball" at Yankee Stadium this summer, it could very well be for a sport other than baseball.
A big-time international soccer friendly could wind up at the Stadium in July or August if negotiations turn out right.
Local organizers want to bring perennial championship sides Real Madrid and Inter Milan to the home of champions, according to reliable metro area soccer sources.
Nothing has been finalized, but negotiations are ongoing, sources said.
If the match comes to fruition, it would be the first soccer game played at the new stadium and the first match at any field called Yankee Stadium in some 36 years. The last time a soccer game was played there was on Aug. 10, 1976, when the New York Cosmos rolled to an 8-2 triumph over the Miami Toros.
The Yankees obviously had to have their interest piqued by a pair of games last year at Citi Field, home of the New York Mets. Only June 7, a crowd of 39,656 watched Greece and Ecuador play to a 1-1 draw. On July 26, 20,859 spectators witnessed Juventus (Italy) defeat Club America (Mexico), 1-0.
The window of opportunity for the Yankee Stadium game appears to be rather limited. First of all, June and most of July is out of the question. Euro 2012, which includes Spain and Italy, runs from June 8 through July 1. Most club teams probably would not be ready for a tour at the beginning of July.
The best times for a game probably would be from Thursday, July 19 through Wednesday, July 25 and from Monday, Aug. 6 through Sunday, Aug. 12. Since several days and perhaps a week would be needed to put down a grass soccer pitch, the most likely dates for games would be on July 25 or Aug. 11 or 12.
Real Madrid (18-2-1, 55 points), nine-time European champions, is atop La Liga, enjoying a seven-point advantage over second-place Barcelona, the World Club Cup champions.
The Spanish side boasts the likes of goalkeeper Iker Casillas (Spain), midfielders Kaka (Brazil), Mesut Ozil (Germany), Kaka (Brazil), Angel di Maria (Argentina) and Xabi Alonso (Spain) and forward Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal).
Three-time European titlists Inter, the 2010 UEFA Champions League winners, is in fifth place in Italy's Serie A with an 11-8-3 mark and 36 points. The Milan-based club trails leader Juventus (45) by nine points.
Inter's star-studded side includes goalkeeper Julio Cesar (Brazil), defenders Lucio (Brazil), Maicon (Brazil) and Javier Zanetti (Argentina), midfielder Wesley Sneijder (the Netherlands) and forwards Diego Forlan (Uruguay) and Diego Milito (Argentina).