MIAMI GARDENS (CBSMiami) – More than 51,000 soccer fans turned out Monday night to watch Manchester United take on Liverpool FC in the Guinness International Championship Cup.
“Since the World Cup, people are certainly paying attention to soccer and this evening we have two great teams plus terrific entertainment for the whole family,” George Torres, Vice President of events at Sun Life said Monday.
Manchester beat Liverpool 3-1 to bring home the cup.
Fans were so pumped for the final match not even the dreary weather turned them away.
“The rain didn’t keep anybody away,” said Liverpool fan Maina Gatonye. “It rained, it was muddy outside, but we are still here we are still representing.”
The match is the culmination of an eight-team preseason tournament that has attracted large crowds across the United States.
“It’s actually the greatest rivalry in English football league,” said Liverpool fan David, who has been traveling across the country to support his team.
“Just got back last night from 27,000-mile road trip,” he said Monday. “It’s like a dream come true.”
A U.S.-record 109,318 fans packed Michigan Stadium (known as The Big House) on Saturday to see Manchester United defeat Real Madrid 3-1. That shattered the previous record of 101,799 which was for the final match of the 1984 Olympics that took place at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal said he was “amazed” to see the enormous crowd in Michigan over the weekend.
A similar reaction came from Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers when his club was in Charlotte on Saturday to face AC Milan. The match drew 69,364 fans to Bank of American Stadium, many of whom were Liverpool supporters that were elated to see their team advance to Monday’s final after the 2-0 victory over AC Milan.
“Wherever I have been in the world, there have always been Liverpool supporters,” said Rodgers. “I’ve got to say, I was surprised that so many fans got [to Charlotte]. When we were driving to the stadium it was like a FA Cup final or Champions League final.”
Fans who packed SunLife Stadium said the crowd 51,014 strong is proof that South Florida and the country are finally catching on to the international soccer hype.
“There’s absolutely no point in arguing that Miami, South Florida as a whole whether Broward to Palm Beach is a major market for international soccer,” said soccer supporter Camron Ghorbi. “All you gotta do is look around to notice that fact.”
Fans hoping the tournaments success make David Beckham’s bid for an MLS soccer team in Miami a reality.
The MLS deal is in a holding pattern, following the county’s flip-flop on several stadium location options.
Beckham’s team has said they want a Miami team only if they can secure a location downtown.