Probably the biggest event that I’ve had the privilege to cover during my time with the Times-Union was this week’s international soccer exhibition between the United States and Nigeria. This was the last game for the Americans before heading off to the World Cup in Brazil this week, and it was big. How big? First, 52,033 fans attended the match, an enormous count that shattered the previous record for the entire southeastern quadrant of the country. Both teams fielded their best possible rosters to gather strength for the World Cup to come. Dozens of representatives from the print media, broadcast media, foreign media, and blogs all descended on EverBank Field for Saturday’s match. This was converged communications in action.
This game was front-page news. I covered it for the Times-Union through the week, from private practices at UNF to a public practice and press conference at EverBank Field all the way to game night. Among the things that made this game special was the passion of the fans. Soccer lovers from around the country flocked to Jacksonville to see world-class teams in action and give their favorite players a warm welcome before their trip to Brazil. The American team defeated Nigeria 2-1 on the night, but Jacksonville was probably the biggest winner of all. Take a look at some of these pictures from a special day on the First Coast.