Although the Harvard men’s and women’s soccer teams will not be in action for another month, there certainly has not been a shortage of excitement at Ohiri Field this week.
Liverpool Football Club, one of the top teams in the English Premier League, arrived in Boston Monday to kick off its summer tour of the United States. And for the second time in the last three years, the Reds elected to practice at Harvard over the course of their stay.
For much of the week, Liverpool ran both morning and afternoon training sessions at Ohiri. Hundreds of fans lined the gates each day, and many were even treated to autographs and photo opportunities with some of the Reds, including star midfielder Steven Gerrard and forward Daniel Sturridge.
Over the past few years, Liverpool has developed strong ties to the Boston area. In October 2010, the club was sold to Fenway Sports Group, the sports investment company that owns the Boston Red Sox. Since then, John Henry, the owner of the two squads, has been working to generate support for the Reds in Massachusetts.
One of Henry’s initiatives was to bring his new club to the home of his old one. He helped establish the “Football at Fenway” series in 2010 and brought Liverpool to the ballpark for its Boston debut in 2012. The Reds took on A.S. Roma, an Italian Serie A Club, under the lights of Fenway in front of a sold-out crowd of 37,169 fans.
This year, Liverpool opened its American Tour with a rematch against Roma at Fenway Park on July 23. With most of their starters on the bench, the Reds fell, 1-0, but they will have several more chances to pick up a win during their stay in the States. The club plays next at Soldier Field in Chicago Sunday against Olympiacos. Henry’s team will also take on Manchester City at Yankee Stadium and A.C. Milan in North Carolina before heading back to Anfield.
Prior to leaving for Chicago, however, the Reds decided to give back to the city of Boston. In addition to running their own practices at Harvard, several Liverpool coaches conducted a free soccer clinic for kids from Allston-Brighton, Boston, Cambridge, and Watertown last Sunday at Soldiers Field.
Liverpool kicks off its regular season August 17 against Southampton. After finishing second last season, the Reds will be looking for their first Premier League title since 1990.