Last Friday the U.S. National Arena Soccer Team came to CenturyLink Arena in downtown Boise to play a friendly against the Brazil national team. Until last week, I didn’t even know that arena soccer was a thing, so I was excited to check it out. Soccer is one of my favorite sports to watch, especially in person, although I’ve only ever attended two matches: DC United vs LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders vs Portland Timbers. The energy coming from the crowd at this events has been unmatched by any other sporting event I’ve attended.
It’s exciting to see a soccer event come to Boise, especially with talk of a minor league team coming to a new downtown baseball stadium (expected to begin construction next summer). The match Friday night sold out CenturyLink Arena which hopefully further shows that Boise is indeed interested in soccer.
We arrived to the stadium about fifteen minutes before the doors were set to open, and soon after we arrived members of the U.S. National Team stepped outside and began greeting those in line. It was really neat to see the players interacting with the fans in line, even if I had never heard of any of them. They shook hands, thanked everyone for coming out, took pictures and signed autographs for those waiting to get in. It was an incredibly nice gesture, and all of the players seemed excited to be there.
Our seats were behind one of the goals, and therefore we had netting obstructing our view a bit, but it was the closest to a field I’ve ever been which was pretty neat. The action was exciting to watch, even as Brazil outplayed us throughout the night, ultimately leading to a 5-1 victory in their favor.
It was interesting to see how arena soccer blurred the lines between traditional soccer and hockey. The game certainly seemed more physical than traditional soccer, and without a wide pitch the scoring attempts looked more like hockey plays than soccer. Arena soccer features four 15 minute quarters, rather than two 45 minute halves, and substitutions could be made on the fly, much like in hockey. The game certainly featured a quicker pace than traditional soccer, with an emphasis on quick movements rather than slower buildups to a scoring position.
The pitch that was laid down over the rink seemed a little sketchy. The turf came up multiple times throughout the night, and it seemed like it greatly increased the opportunity for injury. I’m not sure if that’s a factor in all arena soccer matches, or if it was due to the fact that this was the first time a game has been played in Boise (that I’m aware of). Each time the turf came up play was stopped so it could be fixed which slowed down the game, but the rest of the match played out without any major issues.
Overall we had a wonderful night, and certainly hope that soccer makes a return in Boise either through more arena events or a traditional outdoor team once the downtown stadium is completed.