The Leagues Cup 2019 final between Cruz Azul and Tigres UANL was played in glamorous Las Vegas. The chosen facility to host the first edition of the binational tournament’s decisive match was Sam Boyd Stadium.
The stadium, opened in 1971, has a capacity just shy of 40,000 fans, and despite being the current home of UNLV’s football team, it has also hosted multiple sporting events with soccer being no exception.
Quicksilvers & Seagulls
The original NASL, popularized by Pele in the 70s, had a team based in Las Vegas for the 1977 season. The San Diego Jaws moved to Nevada and became the Las Vegas Quicksilvers.
The Quicksilvers' stellar signing was lethal striker Eusebio. But at 35 years old, the Portuguese forward who terrorized defenders all over Europe wasn’t quite the same. The ‘Black Panther’ only managed to score a couple of goals in 17 appearances.
The Quicksilvers' faith was just as short-lived as Eusebio’s tenure, and after that one season, the club moved back to Southern California. In 1979, the Las Vegas Seagulls made their appearance in the American Soccer League, but, just like their predecessors, they only lasted a season before folding.
Twenty years went by until Sam Boyd got some relevant soccer action on the pitch once again. The 1999 Concacaf Champions Cup (known today as Champions League) was hosted by the facility during its latter rounds: quarterfinals, semifinals, and final.
The participants included MLS sides D.C. United and Chicago Fire, as well as Costa Rican powerhouse Alajuelense. But it was the famous Rayos del Necaxa from the 90s that won the championship, therefore earning their ticket for the first ever Club World Cup, in which they finished third. A full 20 years since that match, and Sam Boyd witnessed another Mexican club crowned champion in the Leagues Cup.
When Real Madrid did Vegas
Sam Boyd has also hosted several MLS preseason games. However, the most successful and memorable friendly match played on its pitch took place in the summer of 2012 when Real Madrid, La Liga champions at the time, faced off with Liga MX’s Clausura 2012 champion, Santos Laguna.
The game between ‘Merengues’ and ‘Guerreros’ ended in a 2-1 win for the Spanish side in front of a record crowd attendance for a soccer match in Las Vegas, as well the state of Nevada. Close to 30,000 paid ticket attendees were announced.