U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati clearly understands the nature of Philadelphia as a sports market.
Gulati was in town today to formally announce the U.S.-Turkey game on May 29, and the first thing he said was, "I think we've failed a little bit."
"We generally try to spread our premier events around the country, and this year it seems like we've got a lot of on one city," Gulati said. "So our failure to follow the message of spreading the wealth - it isn't working."
He was being sarcastic, of course. But no one is kidding about how high Philadelphia's stock has risen in American soccer in recent months.
"When you put it all together, the soccer fans in the area, the soccer people, have done a great job and we're just delighted to be a part of everything that's going on in Philadelphia," U.S. national team coach Bob Bradley said in a recorded video message that was shown before this afternoon's press conference at the NovaCare Center began.
"It's another great day for soccer in Philadelphia - I've been getting to say that quite a bit lately," Union president Tom Veit said. "To have the national team come not once but twice within a one-year period... we just feel lucky and honored to be a spoke in that wheel."
The full details are that the U.S. national team will play Turkey at the Linc on May 29, with a kickoff time of 2 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2 and Galavision. Tickets will go on sale to the general public on February 26, and there will be a few presales for various groups the week prior.
The Turkey game will be the last of three warmup matches for the World Cup on American soil. The other two are against El Salvador in Tampa on February 24 and against the Czech Republic on May 25 at a site to be determined. There will also be a game against the Netherlands in Amsterdam on March 3.
Wherever that May 25 game ends up, you can be sure that people will be watching how many people attend the game at the Linc - especially because of the fierce competition to be part of the U.S.' World Cup bid.
"All of this leads up to our ultimate goal, which is to be one of the hosts for the World Cup in 2018 or 2022," said Mayor Nutter, who added that "we're serious about the sport - it's going to continue to grow and flourish here in Philadelphia."
He also said the U.S.' first game at this summer's World Cup will be against Great Britain, for the record.
Nutter presented Gulati with a replica liberty bell. Banner gave Gulati an Eagles jersey, then Gulati gave Banner and Nutter U.S. national team jerseys. Then, just to make sure everyone was in on the swag party, Veit gave Nutter a Union winter coat that looked the size of a sleeping bag.
Audio of the full press conference is below. It includes a rather humorous conversation with a radio host in town you might have heard of.
There's also a video in the player with press conference highlights and my own exclusive interviews with Gulati and Veit.