Rhodes Field: home to Penn men’s and women’s soccer, the US men’s national team, and Swansea City AFC.
No, you didn’t misread that; Penn’s soccer stadium hosted a Premier League team and a national team in the midst of a major tournament within the span of just a few days this past week.
Welsh weather followed Swansea last weekend for the first leg of their American pre-season tour in Philadelphia as the soccer team from Wales was in town for a match against local MLS side Philadelphia Union. Despite the near constant rain, the Swans managed to get settled enough for a few training sessions at Rhodes ahead of their Saturday match.
Back in Europe, Swansea plays in the English Premier League, arguably the best national soccer league in the world. The Swans survived their first major relegation scare last season in 15th place.
Swansea has more American ties than most Premier League clubs. Two Americans own the club, and this summer marks their fourth US tour. The Swans also hired the Premier League’s first American Manager, former US men’s national team coach Bob Bradley, who was fired after only 85 days.
The Swans view their trip as a great way for the team to prepare for a grueling season while giving state-side supporters a chance to see their club first-hand.
The United States men’s national team is also back at Rhodes Field ahead of their Gold Cup Quarterfinal against El Salvador at Lincoln Financial Field in South Philly. Bruce Arena’s tournament squad added six familiar names to what was a young and inexperienced lineup ahead of the knock-out stages.
The Americans won their group to start the Gold Cup, but not without intense discomfort, most notably in a hard fought 3-2 win over lowly Martinique. Arena acknowledged that his team had not played their best thus far in the tournament.
This is not the first time the national team has prepared for a tournament match at Rhodes. They also trained at Penn’s facility last year, ahead of a Copa América match against Paraguay.
Rhodes Field has become Philadelphia’s premier location for visiting teams to train before big matches. Penn’s facility has everything a big-name guest would look for: a secluded private stadium, carefully manicured grass field, and a relatively close location to both big game soccer locations: Lincoln Financial Field and Talen Energy Stadium. The grass field is not common among colleges as the majority of private soccer fields around the country are artificial turf.
And while Penn’s soccer teams could definitely use some of these teams’ players during the grueling Ivy League season, they can at least take comfort in knowing that they use a facility that attracts global talent on a near constant basis.
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