The International Champions Cup kicked off the Weekend in Charlotte at House of Soccer – a free festival of sport and fun at Romare Bearden Park. The event preceded the Arsenal vs. ACF Fiorentina matchup at Bank of America stadium.
During the pregame ceremonies, USA women's soccer star Megan Rapinoe was on hand for the coin toss to the delight of the crowd of about 34, 000 fans. The audience was much smaller than the previous CONCACAF gold cup event, which boasted over 58,000 attendees, but those present at Saturday's match were no less energetic.
The first team to get on the board was England’s Arsenal when Eddie Nketiah fired a short kick into the bottom corner to score off a pass from Sead Kolasinac.
Despite the active play from dynamic young players such as strikers Federico Chiesa and Giovanni Simeone, La Viola, as Fiorentina has come to be known, was not able to convert during either period.
Arsenal, however, had no issues with scoring. A Henrikh Mkhitaryan pass found Nketiah who scored for the second time early in the second half to give the Arsenal a 2-0 lead.
The dominance continued for Arsenal late in the second half as 19 year old Englishman Joe Willock scored off an assist from A Lacazette. The score put the Arsenal up 3-0.
Despite the shutout victory, Second-year coach Unai Emery had concerns about the Arsenal's performance during the game. "I'm unhappy with the game because we didn't control the match the way we wanted," Emery said. "We conceded a lot."
Match organizer Relevant Sports Group also announced the signing of a five-year deal with Bank of America Stadium to host international soccer matches in Charlotte. This marks the first long-term deal between the group and a host city, building Charlotte’s commitment to bringing major soccer events to the city.