Among the thousands expected to take in an exhibition soccer match between the New York Cosmos and Valencia will be an avid fan who also happens to play in the NHL.
New York Islanders forward Josh Ho-Sang will join Arizona Coyotes forward Brendan Perlini as special guests at Mosaic Stadium on July 22.
Ho-Sang describes himself as a massive soccer fan and a wizard at the soccer video game FIFA 18. While hockey is his sport, soccer is almost as big in his life.
“I’m not normally one to fangirl but I just think soccer players are so talented and they master their craft like no other,” Ho-Sang said.
The rookie from Toronto lists Christiano Ronaldo as his favourite player and is excited to have the chance to see his Portuguese teammate Nani play with Valencia.
“At the Euro’s Nani put in a golden boot performance,” Ho-Sang said as he watched every minute of Portugal’s 2016 European title run. “He’s also scored a lot of goals for me in FIFA so I can thank him in person.”
Ho-Sang’s visit to Saskatchewan falls just weeks before the start of training camp with the Islanders and is one of his few breaks in an ‘off-season’ full of long workout sessions. He is hoping to build on the 10 points in 21 games last season.
“Rookie of the year isn’t my end goal, it’s on the side but I just want us to be a playoff team this year,” he said, adding every new season starts a chance to win a Stanley Cup.
“You see with Nashville finishing 8th in their conference and going to the final it’s the most competitive league in the world.”
And if he does win top rookie honors, a soccer-themed trip is in the works.
“I promised myself if I win rookie of the year I will go on a circuit next summer and watch some (English) Premier League games and just be one of the fans and be present in the atmosphere.”