Ahead of Arsenal’s brief jaunt over to the U.S. to play against the New York Red Bulls this weekend, manager Arsene Wenger has been speaking out about how much soccer has grown in North America.
Wenger, 64, spent his entire summer working for French station Canal+ at the World Cup and has now returned to prepare his squad for the 2014-15 Premier League season.
[RELATED: Schedule for PL teams on US tours]
Whilst down in Brazil covering the World Cup, Wenger was “stopped by so many American people” and he can’t recall more interest in soccer from the U.S. since he’s been in charge of the North London outfit. The Gunners will face club legend Thierry Henry and the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena on Saturday, July 26th at 5 p.m. ET in front of what is expected to be a packed out crowd.
Arsenal have a huge following in the USA and Wenger has told the club website, before the squad jets across the Atlantic Ocean, to express how impressed he is with the huge levels of support he’s seen Stateside for the sport in recent years.
“It is the first time since I [started to] go to World Cups that I’ve been stopped by so many American people,” Wenger said. “I can tell you something I’m completely convinced of – before people didn’t know who you were, but now every American guy I met knows Arsenal, knows England and knows the Premier League.
“The enthusiasm about soccer in the States is new but big. I expect us to have a good crowd there. I hope that we can help to develop the interest in the game and that we can play a good match there to make people enjoy it. It is the perfect time to go. I always wanted to go with Arsenal to the United States, so I’m personally very happy to do it.”
With the Gunners only making one short stop this time around, perhaps Wenger’s side will embark on a full blown U.S. tour next summer and in the years to come?
That would make plenty of Arsenal fans in the U.S., and seemingly Wenger himself, very happy indeed.