Black & gold German soccer club, star Christian Pulisic coming to Heinz Field
A black-and-gold clad team representing a city with a rich steel and industrial heritage featuring one of the finest American-born football players in the sport – playing at Heinz Field?
Not the Steelers. And not football… but "football."
German team Borussia Dortmund, led by Pennsylvania-born and U.S. soccer emerging star Christian Pulisic, is coming to Pittsburgh. BVB – as Borussia Dortmund is more commonly and colloquially known as in European soccer circles – will play Portuguese club S.L. Benfica as part of the International Champions Cup tournament July 25 at Heinz Field.
A 109-year-old club in the Bundesliga, BVB hails from the city of Dortmund in western Germany. Like BVB, Dortmund's colors (via its official coat of arms) are black and gold. And its heritage is rich in steel production until – stop me if you've heard this before – the industry collapsed late last century, leading to a new economy based in part on technology, biomedicine and higher education.
"When Dortmund saw the commonalities between its city, including the colors… it was a no- brainer coming to Pittsburgh," said Matt Kontos, the chief operating officer of Relevant Sports, which promotes the International Champions Cup.
The Pittsburgh ties run deep enough that an Allderdice High School graduate provides the soundtrack for BVB's home matches.
"Wiz Khalifa, he's a huge guy in our locker room with the song 'Black and Yellow,'" said Patrick Owomoyela, a BVB ambassador and former player. "The (players) hear the song coming out onto the pitch (field) all the time."
Representatives from Borussia Dortmund and the International Champions Cup were at Heinz Field Wednesday morning to promote the July game, which is part of an 18-team, round-robin style tournament staged at sites in the U.S., Europe and Singapore.
While casual soccer fans in the U.S. might be more familiar with other, more brand-name teams in the tournament such as Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, A.S. Roma and Bayern Munich, arguably none of those teams has the U.S.-born star power BVB brings in the name of the 19-year-old Pulisic.
A Hershey native, Pulisic starred for the U.S. national team in its failed World Cup qualifying last year. He has nine goals in 20 appearances for Team USA.
"Obviously, he's a big, big door-opener for the club and for the Bundesliga itself in the U.S.," Owomoyela said. "He might be one of the best players in the world if he keeps on going as he is at the moment. A great guy, he brings everything you need to become one of the world's best."
In ascending from near-bankruptcy in 2005 to the heights of the 2013 Champions League final, BVB has made a priority out of marketing — and scouting for talent – internationally.
"We looked deeply into the U.S. market and where we have followers," said Benedikt Scholtz, vice president of international development for BVB. "In the end, the team is the most visible and accessible thing, so we have to bring the players, we have to bring Christian… (And) that's when we made the decision to come here (to the U.S.)… and Pittsburgh was probably the first location we picked."
The #ICC2018 is coming to Pittsburgh!Catch Borussia Dortmund take on S.L. Benfica in tournament play right here on July 25. Tickets go on sale May 1, but you can sign up for the presale and beat the rush: https://t.co/G9dsUwLI2R #ChampionsMeetHere pic.twitter.com/WEbktSPlXf— Heinz Field (@heinzfield) April 18, 2018
This is the second time the International Champions Cup has scheduled a game at Heinz Field: Manchester City defeated AC Milan, 5-1, in front of an announced crowd of 34,347 on July 27, 2014.
Tickets go on sale May 1 at http://www.internationalchampionscup.com.
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.