Raheem Sterling scores for Liverpool in dreary exhibition at Soldier Field
BY BRIAN SANDALOW For Sun-Times Media July 27, 2014 9:41PM
Updated: August 29, 2014 1:16PM
Liverpool and Olympiacos don’t begin their regular seasons until next month.
Olympiacos is the reigning Greek champion, and Liverpool is coming off a second-place finish in the English Premier League.
The game Sunday at Soldier Field, part of the International Champions Cup, was only an exhibition with no bearing on those upcoming seasons.
That’s probably a good thing for both teams after Liverpool’s 1-0 victory on Raheem Sterling’s fifth-minute strike.
Neither team looked like it was at its sharpest.
There were only three shots on goal, but six yellow cards were issued, and the teams combined for 32 fouls.
For both clubs, the value wasn’t in the entertainment but more in the preparation.
“For us, this is a great opportunity to play, to take part in a tournament like this because we have the opportunity to play against the greatest teams and also to give a good performance, which we are giving,” Olympiacos coach and former Real Madrid star Michel Gonzalez said through a translator.
Another aspect of the trip is, of course, building their brands and expanding the reach of the clubs in the United States.
The crowd of 36,170 was mostly made up of Liverpool fans, and they brought many of the club’s traditions with them.
The seating behind the north goal was unofficially the Kop, named after the most famous section of Anfield, the club’s stadium in England.
Those fans sang along as the team’s anthem, “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” played on the speakers before the game.
That passion was noticed by Liverpool coach Brendan Rodgers.
“We were all probably taken aback by the reception we received when we arrived at the hotel,” Rodgers said Saturday. “It was incredible, the number of supporters outside.”
Despite the subpar game, Rodgers said he was content with the display.
“I was delighted with the team,” Rodgers said.
“As the preseason goes on, we will be getting sharper in our movements and some of our passing, but, at this moment, you’re really building up the resistance of the players [with] the duration of the game and getting some minutes under their belt.”