In Tuesday’s international friendly between Orange County SC and Hamburger SV, everybody’s looking for a good time.
That was the theme on Monday during the media day for the event, which will be held at OCSC’s home of Championship Soccer Stadium in Irvine.
The friendly pits two clubs in very different situations, albeit with a few intriguing parallels, against each other: Hamburg are historically one of the biggest clubs in Germany, but as they hit an extended winter break in the German second division, the trip to California is an opportunity to stay healthy and in some level of fitness while also getting away from the Northern European winter closing in. Orange County are in their offseason, but will look to end the year on a good note in front of the home fans before fully breaking until training camp picks up next year.
Hamburg manager Tim Walter, noting this will be Hamburg’s first-ever friendly in the United States, laid out the objectives for his side in the match.
“If we play soccer, we want to win,” Walter told reporters in English. “So we are here to win the game, to have a great time, to have a great period between the [parts of the season], that’s why we are here, but we want to have a good time. I think it’s a great [opportunity] to to play against a team like Orange County, to make new experience against American teams. And so we’re very excited about the game of tomorrow and we’re happy about it.”
Orange County head coach Richard Chaplow is coming off a season that was not the robust title challenge expected coming in, but said the game, coming against the 2nd place team in the 2.Bundesliga, will likely prove to be a good measuring stick for a young OCSC squad.
“Football should always be fun, but in the right way,” Chaplow said. “We want to be competitive always. We understand some differences in levels that so yes, it’ll obviously be a challenge for us, it’s difficult at the minute because we also don’t have a full squad but it gives some of those young players an opportunity to get some minutes and test themselves against some top level players.”
In that way, Chaplow said the occasion is as much for the fans and the sport as it is for the team.
“It’s more of a case of obviously trying to build the community of Orange County, the fans that have obviously been so great for us this year and just give them another event to come come into the Championship Stadium and hopefully enjoy an exciting game obviously and watch a team that is obviously doing very well in the 2.Bundesliga and slightly above us in level,” he said.
Walter and the Hamburg players mentioned that they had already gotten started on sight-seeing since arriving in California over the weekend, taking in a Los Angeles Lakers game and also seeing the Los Angeles Chargers play. It was also a reunion for several players, as OCSC goalkeeper Patrick Rakovsky, a German native, saw former teammates Sonny Kittel and Tim Leibold, now at Hamburg, during the pre-match press conference.
Orange County midfielder Daniel Pedersen said the visit of Hamburg, a club that won the European Cup in 1983, among many other honors over the decades, should be seen as a huge occasion stateside.
“I’m not sure how many Americans know how big a club Hamburg is,” Pedersen said. “But it’s a huge club in Europe and in Germany. So it’s obviously a big deal that they are coming out here. And I think it’s good for the fans to to get a view on European football and one of the top clubs and it’s good for other players, especially the American players [here at OCSC] to test themselves against.”
Orange County SC vs. Hamburg will take place Tuesday in Irvine. The game, which is scheduled to kick off at 7 pm PT, will stream on ESPN+ in the United States.
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