The Importance of the U.S. Market

If there is a polite way to tell an entire group of people "We just want your money," AC Milan have certainly not found it. They are not particularly direct or honest, like saying "We want you to be an AC Milan fan and buy our merchandise," instead, they keep addressing the general public as if we are investors in a board meeting or something, repeatedly telling us how important the U.S. Market is. We get it. You bought Captain America. You rented a giant AC Milan hot air balloon and flew it over Los Angeles for some unknown reason. You painted your tour bus like some 1980's political campaign or carnival bus and are parading it around Los Angeles like it is supposed to impress people. You are trying way too hard to convince us how important this U.S. market is to you. Just let the team play. The football speaks for itself.

So cringe, a circus might be embarrassed by it.

Sunday night, in front of 100,000 fans, Milan faced Real Madrid in their first friendly of the "Soccer Champions Tour" here in the U.S. Sure, the final score was Real Madrid 3, AC Milan 2. And the crowd appeared to be probably at least 95,000 Real Madrid fans. But launching the spectacular new white away kit in front of so many people ("such an important market") had to have been successful, because they looked amazing.

Perfectly scripted

Of course, you could not have scripted it much better, since the U.S. is the "the biggest sport market in the world." Pulisic, in front of an American crowd, assisted the opening goal of the tour, Tomori's header that made it 1-0 for Milan. Then Luka Romero, who had made his La Liga debut at the age of 15 against Real Madrid, scored a golazzo in the 42nd minute to make it 2-0 Milan. Amazing how quiet 95,000 Real Madrid fans can be.

A great way to start the season

The second half, Ancelotti made eight changes at the half, bringing on his starters, and it showed when Milan conceded two goals by Valverde in less than two minutes to equalize. Finally, we heard what all those Real Madrid fans sounded like. Pioli finally changed ten of his 11 players, bringing on a number of his starters and a few more new players, while only leaving on Luka Romero, his only sub in the first half. And despite a number of Giroud almosts, including a free kick that just skimmed over the crossbar, it was Vini Jr. who got the final say, making it 3-2 Real Madrid.

Surprising everyone.

Obviously, the score was a disappointment, especially having been up 2-0 at the half. But considering everyone was probably still jetlagged, playing this match at 4am Italy time, I was certainly not bothered by it. At the end of the day, the club achieved its goal: marketing in one of the "top three international markets" that the club is focused on. They showcased the local Milan club, Milan Club SoCal and rolled out the new kits to a primetime U.S. audience. Even if that television broadcast was preempted ten minutes by none other than America's favorite pastime, baseball. It doesn't get more American than that.

Two beloved Milan coaches

The Club also pushed the narrative of the history of the Rose Bowl, which was the venue for the 1994 World Cup final, where Italy lost on penalties to Brazil (and ironically, when I fell in love with football.) They brought Franco Baresi and Daniele Massaro to the match and had them sign autographs in the Milan Fan Zone, for example. (Although I wonder what they had to do to get those guys there, considering that not only did Italy lose that match in that stadium, but both of them missed their penalties in that final.) And, of course, there was the trailer of Milan merchandise that they are bringing to every match on the U.S. tour to be able to sell jerseys, scarves, and lots of other merch to fans right then and there.

Massaro and Baresi forced to return to the scene of a nearly 30 year-old crime

Pioli was asked about Okafor, who joined up with the team after signing his contract on Saturday and flying over. However, he did not talk about Gabbia, who was not called up for the match, because he is being sent back to Europe to go on loan to Villareal. A little heartbreaking, because he is a lifelong Milanista. Reminds me of when they sent Cutrone home from the U.S. tour because he was being sold to Wolverhampton. Except more fans cared about Cutrone, sadly, even though Gabbia has been a faithful and hardworking member of our bench for the past three years. But although they are clearing a player out for their purposes, that is obviously not good marketing in the all-important U.S. market.

Don't forget the new Off White suits, worn in the Southern California summer heat

For me personally, since they are here in Los Angeles, it was amazing to watch a match at a proper time like a normal human being, even if we lost, and even if it was just a friendly. But I am not their target market. I have been watching Milan since 1994, while they are looking for new fans to suck dry. I love this club, and I am happy if it grows, but I cannot say that I am happy about the way they have gone about it. This is not AC Milan, pandering for money and shoving players both past and present into the media like carnival attractions.

AC Milan is a club that has won seven Champions League titles. Iconic, legendary players have worn this shirt, and even many of the players we have now are important players. Instead of marketing down to U.S. fans with really stupid, gimmicky, tacky marketing attempts that are actually repulsive, why not give fans here a chance to fall in love with AC Milan for the football? 

Toto, we're not in 1899 anymore.

If this market is so important, why just sell fans a jersey from a trailer and go home? Talk about the history. Show off the prestige. Treat our club with the honor it deserves, so new fans will understand they are joining something really important. Not a circus or some club that is stuck in 1899, when hot air balloons were actually a form of transportation. If this market is so important, then treat the fans and the club with some respect.

This post inspired by the music of Aretha Franklin's "Respect"

Our next match is 
a friendly
Juventus vs. AC Milan
Thursday, July 27, 2023 • 7:30pm PDT (Friday, July 28 at 4:30am CEST)

The Importance of the U.S. Market The Importance of the U.S. Market Reviewed by Elaine on 11:59 PM Rating: 5
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