Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Arsenal In America: The Complete History

May 31, 1972, Orange Bowl, Miami.

1 Goalkeeper (GK) Geoff Barnett (in place of the injured Bob Wilson)
2 Right Back (RB) Pat Rice
3 Left Back (LB) Sammy Nelson (in place of Bob McNab)
4 Midfielder (MF) Peter Storey
5 Centreback (CB) Frank McLintock (sub: 14 John Roberts)
6 CB Peter Simpson
7 MF George Armstrong
8 MF Alan Ball (sub: 12 Eddie Kelly)
9 Forward (FW) John Radford
10 FW Ray Kennedy
11 FW Charlie George.

Miami Gatos 2-3 Arsenal, the Gunners coming from 1-0 at the half. The Gatos were a North American Soccer League franchise that played from 1972 to 1976, known after that 1st season as the Miami Toros -- the Cats becoming the Bulls. Goals by George, Radford and Kennedy. Attendance: 4,725.

May 23, 1973, Varsity Stadium, Toronto.

1 GK Bob Wilson
2 RB Pat Rice
3 LB Bob McNab
4 MF Eddie Kelly
5 CB Richie Powling
6 CB Peter Simpson
7 FW Peter Marinello
8 MF Brian Chambers
9 FW John Radford
10 FW Charlie George
11 MF George Armstrong
(No substitutions were used. Peter Storey and Ray Kennedy did not play.)

Toronto Select 0-1 Arsenal. Charlie George scored the game's only goal. Attendance: I can't find a reference.

Four days later, in a game that was in the CONCACAF region but not on the North American continent, Arsenal beat Devonshire Colts in Bermuda, 4-0. It was the same lineup, with Charlie scoring again, as did Marinello (in his last appearance for the club), and Radford twice.

Other CONCACAF, but not North American countries or country equivalents where Arsenal have played include Trinidad & Tobago, Jamaica, Curacao and Aruba in 1965, and Trinidad & Tobago again in 1982 and 1985. Arsenal have never played in Mexico, nor in any nation that could be called "Central America."

Their only visits to South America have been Summer tours of Brazil in 1949 and 1951. They've played in Africa in South Africa in 1964 and 1993, and in Egypt in 1982. Their visits to Asia have included Japan in 1968 and 2013; Singapore in 1975, 1977, 1990 and 2015; Thailand in 1975 and 1999; Malaysia in 1975, 1999, 2011 and 2012; the United Arab Emirates in 1976; Kuwait in 1977; China in 1981, 1995, 2011 and 2012; Indonesia in 1983 and 2013; Saudi Arabia in 1984; and Vietnam in 2013. They went to Australia in 1977, and will return in 2017.

August 6, 1989, Joe Robbie Stadium, Miami Gardens.

1 GK John Lukic
2 RB Lee Dixon
3 LB Gus Caesar (in place of Nigel Winterburn)
4 MF Michael Thomas
5 CB David O'Leary
6 CB Tony Adams
7 MF David Rocastle
8 MF Kevin Richardson
9 FW Alan Smith
10 MF Paul Merson
11 MF Steve Morrow (in place of Brian Marwood or Martin Hayes)

Independiente 1-2 Arsenal. Club Atletico Independiente, of Avellaneda in the province of Buenos Aires, were the defending champions of Argentina, as Arsenal were the defending champions of England. This was for the Zenith Data Systems Challenge Trophy, a phony "world championship." "Rocky" Rocastle scored from open play in the 1st half, and from a penalty in the 2nd half.

For the 2nd time, Arsenal decided that the best place in America to visit during the summer was Miami. Attendance: 10,042, the vast majority of them Hispanics rooting for the South American team. Each team had someone sent off: Independiente, a player; Arsenal, oddly enough, physio Gary Lewin.

July 26, 2014, Red Bull Arena, Harrison, New Jersey, outside New York.

1 GK Wojciech Szczesny (46th minute sub: 26 Emiliano Martinez)
3 LB Kieran Gibbs (played entire game)
7 FW Tomas Rosicky (71st minute sub: 37 Chuba Akpom)
8 MF Mikel Arteta (46th minute sub: 34 Francis Coquelin)
10 MF Jack Wilshere (71st minute sub: 56 Jon Toral)
16 MF Aaron Ramsey (46th minute sub: 24 Abou Diaby)
18 CB Nacho Monreal (played entire game)
19 MF Santi Cazorla (71st minute sub: 53 Kristoffer Olsson)
25 RB Carl Jenkinson (46th minute sub: 39 Hector Bellerin)
35 MF Gedion Zelalem (46th minute sub: 20 Mathieu Flamini)
45 CB Isaac Hayden (46th minute sub: 48 Ignasi Miquel)

New York Red Bulls 1-0 Arsenal. Attendance: A sellout of 25,219, including myself. If the game had been played at the 41,922-seat Citi Field in Flushing, Queens; at the 49,638-seat new Yankee Stadium in The Bronx; or even at the 82,566-seat MetLife Stadium, at the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey, it would still have sold out. That's how much of a following The Arsenal have in America, and particularly in the New York Tri-State Area.

Bradley Wright-Phillips, son of Arsenal legend Ian Wright, scored the only goal. Diaby had a goal disallowed for offside -- incorrectly, I thought. (Some things never change: Even in meaningless games on other continents, The Arsenal get screwed over by the officials.) It is ironic that the Arsenal player most known for not playing due to injury has come the closest to scoring in an Arsenal uniform than any player I've ever seen. I have seen Thierry Henry score, and in that very stadium, but for the Red Bulls.

Several Arsenal players who featured in the 2014 World Cup did not make the trip: Germans Per Mertesacker (4) and Mesut Ozil (11); Frenchmen Laurent Koscielny (6) and Olivier Giroud (12); Englishmen Theo Walcott (14) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (15); and Chilean Alexis Sanchez (17).

As a result, the club was short at certain positions. Rosicky, normally a midfielder, played the 1st 70 minutes up top. Monreal, normally a left back, was moved to centreback. Zelalem, only the 3rd American ever to play for Arsenal (after Frank Simek in 2003 and Danny Karbassiyoon in 2004), became the 1st player from a CONCACAF nation to play for Arsenal in a CONCACAF nation, let alone his own.

This game, and the 2012 Emirates Cup 1-1 draw between the clubs, may be as close as we come to Henry, who with only 9 seasons in an Arsenal shirt falls just short of qualifying, ever getting an official testimonial.

July 28, 2016, Avaya Stadium, San Jose, outside San Francisco.

33 GK Petr Cech (67th minute sub: 26 Emiliano Martinez)
2 RB Mathieu Debuchy (46th minute sub: 24 Hector Bellerin)
3 LB Kieran Gibbs (46th minute sub: 18 Nacho Monreal)
10 MF Jack Wilshere (46th minute sub: 17 Alex Iwobi)
14 FW Theo Walcott (67th minute sub: 68 MF Chris Willock, his Arsenal debut)
15 MF Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (67th minute sub: 32 FW Chuba Akpom)
16 CB Rob Holding (his Arsenal debut, played entire game)
28 MF Joel Campbell (69th minute sub: 31 FW Jeff Reine-Adelaide)
34 MF Francis Coquelin (46th minute sub: 29 Granit Xhaka, his Arsenal debut)
35 MF Mohamed Elneny (67th minute sub: 40 Gedion Zelalem)
37 CB Krystian Bielik (46th minute sub: 21 Calum Chambers)

MLS All-Stars 1-2 Arsenal. Campbell and Akpom the Arsenal scorers.

Ozil, Koscielny and Giroud did not play, because they featured in Euro 2016. (Ozil at least made the trip. Mertesacker was injured.) Chilean Alexis Sanchez (now wearing 7) did not make the trip, because he featured in the Copa America.

Attendance: Listed as exactly 18,000, which, if true, would be a sellout. Just 2 days later, Liverpool and AC Milan played just a few miles away at Levi's Stadium, the new home of the NFL's San Francisco 49ers, and sold out at 68,500. I have no doubt that Arsenal, never mind the MLS All-Stars, could have sold that out, too.

July 31, 2016, StubHub Center, Carson, California, outside Los Angeles.

13 GK David Ospina (68th minute sub: 26 Emiliano Martinez)
14 FW Theo Walcott (46th minute sub: 32 Chuba Akpom)
15 MF Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (65th minute sub: 40 Gedion Zelalem)
16 CB Rob Holding (played entire game)
17 MF Alex Iwobi (65th minute sub: 68 Chris Willock)
18 LB Nacho Monreal (46th minute sub: 3 Kieran Gibbs)
19 MF Santi Cazorla (46th minute sub: 28 Joel Campbell)
21 CB Calum Chambers (46th minute sub: 37 Kristian Bielik)
24 RB Hector Bellerin (46th minute sub: 2 Mathieu Debuchy)
29 MF Granit Xhaka (46th minute sub: (35 Mohamed Elneny)
34 MF Francis Coquelin (65th minute sub: 31 Jeff Reine-Adelaide)

Club Deportivo Guadalajara 1-3 Arsenal. Holding, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Akpom the Arsenal scorers against the team popularly known as Chivas. A rare match in which no players wearing Numbers 1 through 11 started.

Attendance: 24,000. This may have been the 1st time that a Mexican team has played in California and had their fans outnumbered. Three days earlier, Chelsea beat Liverpool nearby at the Rose Bowl in front of 53,117. Arsenal would have done at least that well.

Goals scored by Arsenal in North America, December 11, 1886 to July 27, 2016: 6
Goals scored by Arsenal in North America, July 28 to 31, 2016: 5

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