Copa Peoria brings community together, plus two historic soccer matches

(PEORIA, Ill.) — Peoria, Illinois played home to the Inaugural Copa Peoria Series, a 4-day event between Peoria City and Chivas de Guadalajara U23.

Including two international friendlies between the USL League Two side and the Liga MX U23 squad, Shea Stadium saw not one, but two nights of historic crowds.

On Sunday, June 9th, Peoria City broke the attendance record once again with a fantastic crowd of 2,750 people.

Three nights later on Wednesday, June 12th, a very close 2,611 supporters entered the stadium gates for a great night of soccer.

That brings the total attendance of the two nights to 5,361.

None of this would have been possible without the support and collaboration of many community partners. The Greater Peoria Hispanic Chamber of Commerce were amazing community advocates in supporting this endeavour, offering their businesses, members and volunteers to help make both nights happen.

In addition, multiple local businesses within the Greater Peoria Hispanic Chamber of Commerce welcomed in the Chivas de Guadalajara U23 players, coaches and staff through their doors and made them feel extremely welcome. These include Hacienda el Mirador, Yeni’s Palarte, the Peoria Southside Soccer Club and many more.

Christell Frausto, the President of the Greater Peoria Hispanic Chamber of Commerce calls the event an overwhelming success.

“This historic series saw record-breaking attendance, showcasing the power of community collaboration and international soccer, Frausto said. “The Copa Peoria Series exemplifies the fantastic leadership and vision of all involved, setting a high standard for future events. We look forward to more opportunities to bring our community together through the love of soccer.”

Jim DeRose, President of Peoria City, shared gratitude to the entire Chivas organization for the professionalism the players, coaches and support staff displayed during their time in Peoria.

“On behalf of Peoria City, we would like to extend our incredible gratitude and appreciation for the community support of our fans, sponsors, Discover Peoria, and in particular the Greater Peoria Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for their dedication and commitment to Copa Peoria,” DeRose said. “The incredible four days with Chivas de Guadalajara U23 was a testament to the collaborative efforts of our community, leaders at City Hall, and our club that allowed Copa Peoria to be showcased throughout the Midwest and nationally on TV by NBC Sports Chicago. We’d like to share an incredible thank you to our new friends at Chivas de Guadalajara that worked so diligently with us to make this event a reality. The professionalism, community engagement, and the investment that all of the players, coaches, support staff and promoters displayed during their time in Peoria showed why the Chivas brand is one of the greatest in the world. We are forever grateful and thankful for their time in Peoria, and we are hopeful that we can bring them back in the future.”

Chivas de Guadalajara U23 Head Coach Pepe Melendez gave his thanks to the Peoria community.

“Thank you to the front office, coaching staff and players for giving us two great matches,” Melendez said. “We hope to play Peoria City in the near future, and maybe they can come to Guadalajara!”

Cris Barbosa, the CEO of Futbol Marketing Group, says his collaborations with Peoria City are far from over.

“We would like to thank the ownership group and staff at Peoria City for their efforts in putting together this 4-day event,” Barbosa said. “Chivas is a club that has supporters in both countries. We hope to continue this trend and come back to Peoria, Illinois in the near future.”

Peoria City’s creative team spoke with David Zavala, a winger on the Chivas de Guadalajara U23 squad after the second international friendly. Zavala said he and his teammates had a wonderful four days in the River City.

“It was great. A lot of us are born and raised in Mexico, so it’s great to come out here and play some international friendlies, see a new, fun city and have a good time,” Zavala said. “Peoria’s a great team, and overall it was a good battle.”

Zavala hopes to get minutes on the first team in the near future, and if a national call up happens, he says he’s ready for it.

Both nights, Peoria City welcomed four fantastic food vendors to serve our fans. These businesses included Hacienda el Mirador, Los Cabos, Yeni’s Palarte and the Phoenix Food Truck.

After two international friendlies against Chivas de Guadalajara U23, and two Lincoln Cup exhibition matches against Springfield FC, Peoria City returned to USL League Two play with a thrilling 2-1 victory over River Light FC. Starting goalkeeper Samy Slimi saved the lead by blocking a River Light PK in second half stoppage time to earn Peoria City the 2-1 win.

Peoria City hosts St. Charles FC for the first leg of the River Cities Cup, a new initiative created by the two USL League Two rivals, on Saturday, June 22nd.

Tickets are available at the gate or online here:

“Peoria will play home to future stars of American soccer.”
- Jim DeRose, Bradley University Head Soccer Coach

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