MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Soccer is back in Memphis!
Bluff City Mafia’s pre-match march to AutoZone Park for the kickoff of 901 FC’s second season had some extra energy Saturday.
Especially after the team announced legendary U.S. Men’s Soccer Goalie Tim Howard was coming out of retirement to play for the team.
“For the home opener there was a lot of excitement. But when Tim Howard was announced that he would be the goalkeeper tonight, I think that excitement went through the roof,” said Wes Glass, 901 FC fan.
Howard was already part owner of 901 FC. In January, the team named him sporting director. On Thursday, Howard said he would come out of his short-lived retirement that started in October to man the goal for the team he partly owns and manages.
Fans made signs in honor of Howard’s birthday Friday and wore their Howard jerseys.
“He is the icon that we all watched when we grew up playing soccer and grew up loving soccer. And now he is here in Memphis, and he is representing us and our heart and what we feel for this city,” said Molly Weldele, Bluff City Mania.
It was easy to see the excitement Howard created -- lines to get into the game extended to the street corner.
The team hopes Howard will help bring more casual fans to the games.
“Everybody wants to see him. He is like the greatest goalie in US history,” said Joey Madere, 901 FC.
“I think with this being our second year, along with Tim Howard, it has built up more excitement. And it’s also going to bring more fans out. Even your non-soccer fans, they’re going to want to show up and see what this is all about,” said Glass.
The Bluff City Mafia fan section was rocking again for the first time this year.
And with a world class goalie, these fans hope Howard can lead the team to their first playoff appearance and maybe much more.
“I just see him picking up where he left off and hopefully taking us to the playoffs this year,” said Glass.
“When we go to the playoffs this year, which we will, it will be a sight to see,” said Weldele.
The result wasn’t exactly what the fans were expecting, with a 4 to 2 loss, but they’re hopeful Howard will bring more wins in the future.