BOSTON -- Saturday afternoon worked out just about as well as New England Revolution chief operating officer Brian Bilello could have hoped.
Bilello and the Revolution partnered with the House of Blues and World Cup 2010 Boston to stage a viewing party for the much anticipated clash between the United States and England.
The afternoon presented a pair of dueling concerns for the Revolution staffers in attendance: the desire to pack the venue with soccer supporters and the hope that the US would emerge from the game with a positive result.
Counting on Boston soccer fans to show up to support the US, England or any other team of their choice represented the easier of the two priorities to satisfy. With almost every Revolution player in attendance plus a raffle and a silent auction to attract further attention, there were plenty of enticements to encourage spectators to make the trek to Lansdowne Street without making the usually obligatory stopover at Fenway Park.
“I know we were closing in on 2,000 people and that was 45 minutes before kickoff,” Bilello said. “We were hoping for 2,000 people and I'm guessing we got it, so it was really cool and really exciting.”
The performance submitted by the Americans may have merited similar adjectives in the 1-1 draw, particularly once they engineered the required response after Steven Gerrard's fourth-minute opener placed them on their heels.
Several New England players expressed their approval after the US performance and at least a couple reserved special praise for the proactive manner in which the Americans approached the game.
“I was proud of the way they played in the first half especially,” Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis said. “They were passing the ball, they weren't just sitting back, they weren't just launching the ball. They really did look like the better team.”
With the US securing a draw and soccer fans filling the House of Blues to benefit a host of charitable concerns, Bilello said the afternoon reflected the depth and breadth of support for soccer in Boston.
“We know we've got it here in Boston,” Bilello said. “We know we've got a great soccer crowd. Frankly, the World Cup has been front and center for a lot of things. We knew we could get a great crowd down here and they showed up. It was great.”