What are the most important soccer matches in the history of Birmingham? Can you name the most watched game that was played under the gaze of Vulcan? Birmingham doesn’t necessarily have a rich history of the beautiful game. But we are no soccer desert either. There have been plenty of high profile players, teams, and matches that have come through the Magic City.
This blog series on the BBL will discuss my Top 5 High Profile / Most Important soccer matches played in Birmingham. I have broadly defined this list as any match that raised the profile of soccer in the Magic City. And we will start with perhaps the most thrilling game to have ever been played in the Heart of Dixie:
5. The #18 UAB Blazers take on Defending National Champions Indiana University in the 2013 Home Opener
We start this list with a relatively recent UAB soccer match. If you don’t want to be spoiled, you can watch the entire match here on YouTube… for you soccer fans, you will enjoy this game:
Why it made the Top 5: a hot UAB Soccer program led by local coaching legend Mike Getman welcomed the defending National Champions to Birmingham at the start of the 2013 season. The match was played in front of a record crowd with a crescendo and outcome that tops just about any other match played in the history of our city. Read on for the details!
The Blazers started off the 2013 season hot with a 3-0-0 record on the road. Their successful road trip culminated with a trip back home against the defending 2012 National Champions and #8 ranked Indiana Hoosiers on September 6th, 2013. A record crowd at West Campus Field (3,205 in attendance) took in the match that evening and they were treated to a college classic.
Down 1-0 after a 53rd minute Hoosier strike, UAB pressed to find the equalizer. #Hammerhopeful Freddy Ruiz gave the Blazers a great scoring opportunity in the 72nd minute when he played a little crossbar challenge with the Indiana goalkeeper, but UAB was unable to capitalize. Still down 1-0 in the final minute of regulation, the Blazers were gifted a penalty shot when a foul was called on a Hoosier defender in the box. With only seconds to spare, Blazer Diego Navarrete buried his kick from the spot.
Tied 1-1 at the end of regulation, the golden goal rule was in effect for overtime. And with a mere 18 seconds left, Rami Dajani pounded a header past the Indiana goalkeeper for the 2-1 victory. This game helped solifdify UAB’s place on the college soccer map and certainly raised the profile of the program nationally, but maybe more importantly in Birmingham as well. Coach Mike Getman attributed the victory to the record-breaking crowd, saying to a UAB reporter, “I’ll tell you in a game like this, the crowd makes a difference. We are tired. Indiana is making us chase a little bit. They are up 1-0, but the crowd is going and just gives the guys the extra boost. It keeps the energy flowing. I really think the crowd is the difference in the match tonight.”
Highlights from the game can be found on YouTube:
For details on this game, check the UAB Soccer News link here.
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Stay tuned to the BBL for our #4 ranked match coming out soon.