From children, university athletes and the pros, the game of soccer was on full display in Regina on Soccer Day in Saskatchewan.
Thousands turned out draped in the colours of their favourite teams as Mosaic Stadium felt like a different kind of football stadium.
In the end, the North American Soccer League’s New York Cosmos beat Spanish superclub Valencia 2-0 in front of the over 15,000 people in attendance.
— New York Cosmos (@NYCosmos) July 23, 2017
New York midfielder Eric Calvillo opened the scoring in the 54th minute. The American cut in from the right wing to take a well-hit cross by Eugene Starikov and slot it into the bottom left corner past Valencia keeper Jaume Domenech.
The lead was doubled in the 77th minute. Leading scorer Emmanuel Ledesma picked up a rebound from Domenech and blasted it into the goal with his left foot.
With the win, the Cosmos are claiming Regina as their own for the time being.
“It’s been fantastic for us to be here,” said Cosmos Head Coach and Sporting Director, Giovanni Savarese. “We’re very privileged to have been invited to play in front of this beautiful crowd in this beautiful city.”
The game saw both teams giving minutes to younger talent and reserve players as the Cosmos are on a break before the NASL fall season and many players took the week off. Valencia is in the middle of pre-season and is evaluating talent to see who will make the first team when the new season begins in August.
Among the players that made an impression on the crowd was New York’s Kyle Zobeck. Normally the backup, Zobeck made several big saves to keep the clean sheet, including a massive diving save on a Valencia corner kick to keep the score 1-0 in the second half.
But it was more than one game in the provincial capital. Soccer Day in Saskatchewan gave attention to the grassroots level with two days of activities, and a University “celebrity” game before the Cosmos-Valencia match. The University of Saskatchewan beat the University of Regina 1-0 in the 45-minute exhibition that included local TV personalities and NHL’er Josh Ho-Sang.
The day proved the strength of the soccer community in Saskatchewan and showcased the new Mosaic Stadium as a potential soccer facility in the future.
Soccer Day proved so successful that plans are already in the works for 2018.
“It’s the objective to have the same thing next year,” John Graham, President of On Ice Management said. “We want to build on it and have started talking about next year and how to improve.”
— Valencia CF English (@valenciacf_en) July 22, 2017