Arena soccer returns to Bakersfield on Sunday with an international game between the United State and Mexico.
This is the second time the two teams have played in Bakersfield. Last year’s exhibition game featured a crowd of about 4,000 fans in attendance and a similar turnout is expected in 2018, according to Rabobank Arena marketing manager Nick Wynne.
The contest is scheduled for 5 p.m. Tickets are available at the arena box office, starting at $10.
Some local soccer clubs figure to be in attendance, and Wynne added the local chapter of the American Outlaws will also take in the game.
Arena soccer — which is played with walls surrounding the field — is a fast-paced affair. Players can use the walls to bounce passes either to themselves or teammates, or miss a hard shot intentionally to create a rebound and, in turn, scoring opportunity.
There are blue cards and a penalty box, as teams can go on a man-up advantage during the contest.
Last year’s game was up-tempo with a lively crowd on hand. The US beat Mexico 7-6.
Bernie Lilavois, who organized the series and is also general manager of the Ontario Fury of the Major Arena Soccer League, said most of not all the players in Sunday’s game are members of the MASL.
Last year Lilavois was hopeful the MASL could find a home in Bakersfield as well. While an early-April arena soccer game between the US and Guatamala didn’t draw as well as last year’s US vs. Mexico contest, Lilavois still thinks there’s potential for a possible MASL team in Kern County.
“It’s building that fan base, building that excitement about the sport. I think it’s a two-or-three year process,” he said. “I think excitement is slowly but surely building.”
He said Sunday's game figures to bring its own energy level to the table.
“We’re anticipating another large crowd,” he said. “Obviously, the Mexico vs. US rivalry is big.”