Big House crowd is country’s second-largest for soccer

Larry O'Connor
The Detroit News

Ann Arbor — The crowd of 105,826 at Saturday’s International Champions Cup match between Chelsea and Real Madrid is the second largest to ever watch a match in the U.S., and certainly sets the benchmark for this year’s ICC tournament.

The Paris Saint-Germain-Real Madrid match Wednesday at 104,944-capacity Ohio Stadium drew 86,641, which is the largest crowd ever to see a soccer match in that state. The Liverpool-Chelsea match turned out more than 53,000 spectators at 92,542-capacity Rose Bowl on Thursday.

The mark is shy only of the 109,318 who witnessed Manchester United beat Real Madrid 3-1 at Michigan Stadium Aug. 2, 2014. It is also the largest crowd for a Chelsea match.

Grassy grumblings

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte didn’t want to use the temporary grass surface as an excuse for his team being outplayed in the first half.

“I know it is not easy to play on this type of grass,” Conte said. “It know it’s the same grass for Real Madrid as it is for Chelsea.”

Unlike Real Madrid, which did a quick training session Thursday at Michigan Stadium, Chelsea flew directly from Pasadena, California, for Saturday’s match.

At the ICC match two years ago at Michigan Stadium, players complained of bumpiness in the makeshift surface.

American’s status

The future of Chelsea defender Matthew Miazga was topic of curiosity with the U.S.-based media. The Clifton, New Jersey, native didn’t see any action in Saturday’s match though he’s traveling with the club.

The promising player signed with the London outfit from Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls. Miazga committed to Michigan before deciding to turn pro.

Conte said Miazga has the right attitude and commitment, but when done assessing all 29 members of the squad, “We will take the right players.”