The Cleveland City Stars, Cleveland's professional outdoor soccer team, are returning for their third season home opener on Friday at 8 p.m. with high hopes. The team won the 2008 United Soccer League Second Division Championship last year in only their second year of existence, and plan on building upon that success. This year they'll be playing in the USL First Division, a huge promotion that puts them up against stiffer competition and brand name players.
But the City Stars aren't letting the league intimidate them. An extremely talented group of players, they hail from all around the globe, each bring unique talents to the field. Players from the Sierra Leone national team will be playing alongside national team members from Kenya, Trinidad & Tobago, the Ivory Coast and Haiti, as well as soccer stars hailing from the MLS, MISL, Scottish Premier League, and various prestigious universities. This year's hometown hero is goalkeeper Evan Bush from Lake Catholic High School and the University of Akron.
The home opener pits the City Stars against the Rochester Rhinos at the Stars' home stadium at the Bearcat Stadium at Bedford High School. However, the match will only make up half of the excitement as the evening will be a "Return of the Champions" celebration, with lots of giveaways and an impressive helicopter flyover dropping souvenirs from the sky.
The Cleveland City Stars are an exciting team to watch, and game days are full of not only phenomenal soccer, but also a free kids zone and games for all fans - be sure not to miss out on the bouncy castle or sumo suit wrestling - and exciting giveaways and contests. The rousing energy and songs of the Green Army, the City Stars enthusiastic fan group, are definitely an experience in themselves. Tickets are reasonable, at only $15 for an adult ticket and $12 for students, children and seniors, with group discounts and bargain packages constantly available. Crocodinho, the crocodile mascot of the City Stars, is also always on hand, and the matches are truly an event for all ages and levels of soccer enthusiasts.
Friday's home opener will be broadcast nationally on Fox Soccer Channel and should be an exciting opener to a new era in City Stars history. The team has a new league, a new stadium, and a new coach but the excitement should remain from last year's national championship team.