ALEXANDRIA, Va. (DC News Now) — On Thursday, Everton F.C., a European soccer club that competes in the Premier League in England, held a practice at Episcopal High School in Alexandria.
The club will take on another Premier League team, Arsenal, on Saturday in Baltimore. The practice had plenty of fans in attendance, watching a team they normally only see on TV.
“We get such a great welcome when we come here,” said Everton manager Frank Lampard. “I’ve been here many times as a player. I love coming over here personally. As a football club, we get so much support. We have fan clubs over here in America, so it’s great to come close. Great facilities, a really great game against Arsenal in Baltimore, so it’s a perfect game for us.”
Everton and Arsenal aren’t the first European teams to play on American soil, and they certainly won’t be the last. The goal behind these friendlies is to bring the best league in the world to the United States’ massive soccer fan base.
“As the sport grows, the premier league has grown leaps in bounds in America, said former Everton and USMNT goalkeeper Tim Howard. “It’s important that there’s a connectivity between the fans that get up every Saturday morning at five or 6 a.m. to be able to see their heroes and be able to see the people that they support live and in the flesh. It’s great for the team. It’s really good for them to meet the fans and for the fans to meet them.”
Saturday’s game versus Arsenal will be played at M&T Bank Stadium, the home of the Baltimore Ravens, at 7 p.m.