Brian Lewis of The New York Post is reporting that Rangers have expressed an interest to arrange a pre-season friendly with MLS’ New York Red Bulls. Lewis says that no concrete talks have occurred but that the Red Bulls are also expected to lineup a game with Arsenal.
For several years now, some of the world’s biggest clubs have toured America in preparation for their regular seasons. The tours often feature a mix of glamour match ups, along with games against MLS teams. The facilities are top notch & even though the games matter little to the touring teams or for the MLS clubs – the games consistently sell tens of thousands of tickets. For example, in 2012 Celtic played clubs like Real Madrid & Sporting Lisbon in front of 35,000+ spectators.
Like Derek from the Aye Ready Podcast wrote in his post for Rangers Report – Rangers have for the most part missed the golden opportunity to expand its brand to a market eager for new clubs to support on an international level. The following of clubs from around Europe – in particular the EPL & La Liga – has been fully entrenched in a generation of American sports fans who are passionately following clubs half a world away. Recent TV deals with NBC & expanded coverage on ESPN has met that demand as ‘soccer’ is one of the most popular sports for younger fans (35 & under) in America.
Given Rangers willingness to bring in American players & subsequent TV deals in America for Scottish football that were directly tied to the additions of players like Claudio Reyna, Maurice Edu, & Carlos Bocanegra – Rangers really missed it’s chance to showcase its club in America.
Rangers did make one American appearance when they faced off with the Los Angeles Galaxy in May of 2007.
The timing was not ideal given that Rangers had just finished a long season & then jetted across the world for a meaningless friendly. For the Galaxy, David Beckham was still a month a way from joining Los Angeles as he was recovering from ending his spell with Real Madrid. Even at the time fans, in both countries, questioned the logic of playing the match in May.
For the record, future Portland Timbers forward Kris Boyd scored the one & only goal in a 1-0 victory.
If the report of Rangers playing the Red Bulls is true, then it would be logical for Rangers to plan a series of matches. There are plenty of Rangers connections emerging in the Atlantic coast region of MLS. Maurice Edu is about to begin his first season with the Philadelphia Union, while Claudio Reyna is the Director of Football Operations for the expansion New York FC who are scheduled to begin play in the 2015-16 season.
If Rangers could come in & sell a reasonable amount of tickets for a friendly with the Red Bulls they could easily begin the process of becoming entrenched in the ongoing carousal of clubs who annually travel to America for pre-season competition & the profits that accompany the pre-season matches (which are often nationally televised in the US).