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Spain vs Ireland Friendly Has New Yorkers Flocking to Yankee Stadium

By Bryan Graham | June 11, 2013 1:11pm
 Spain and Ireland face off Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium in an international friendly.
Spain-Ireland friendly
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NEW YORK — The latest chapter in Yankee Stadium's unlikely soccer lore will be written Tuesday when the Spanish national team visits the Bronx for an international friendly against Ireland.

Spain is the world's top-ranked team, having won the most recent World Cup in 2010 and back-to-back European Championships in 2008 and 2012. The Irish, at No. 41 in the FIFA rankings, failed to qualify for the last World Cup.

The exhibition will mark the first meeting between the two countries since Euro 2012, when the Spanish stormed to a 4-0 win in the group stage.

Soccer has had a longstanding if understated role in the iconic Bronx venue's history. Tuesday's friendly marks the fourth match at the current Yankee Stadium, which opened in 2009. The original building hosted an array of the world's most famous clubs, among them FC Barcelona, Manchester United, Real Madrid, AC Milan, Juventus and Tottenham Hotspur. It was also Pele's home venue when he captained the NASL's New York Cosmos in 1976.

The sport's place in the stadium's future seems just as secure. Last month, Major League Soccer announced the Yankees would team with English club Manchester City to co-operate the league's 20th team, New York City F.C.

That team will likely begin play at Yankee Stadium on a temporary basis in 2015 while plans for a permanent home — thought ot be in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park — are hashed out.

The Spanish, who are unbeaten in their last 21 games dating back to 2011, are expected to field a full-strength team as they make their final preperations for the Confederations Cup, which kicks off Saturday in Brazil. Ireland will be short-handed, having dropped eight players (including six starters) from its roster.