A special treat for soccer fans in North Carolina takes place this September at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary when the North Carolina Football Club hosts two Liga MX teams in a friendly match.
Set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8, the match features Club de Fútbol Monterrey (commonly known as Rayados) and Atlético de San Luis. The teams are in Mexico’s top professional football division. Get your tickets now for this historic event, and prepare to tailgate.
With the passage of legalized sports betting in North Carolina, WakeMed Soccer Park is authorized as one of eight sporting venues in the state to house an on-site retail sportsbook. While the launch of sports betting expansion is not slated until the first half of 2024, perhaps fans in the future will also be able to place bets on international competitions at the field.
A Leagues Cup Remix at WakeMed Soccer Park
The one-off friendly features teams that participated in this summer’s Leagues Cup play, a competition that featured all 47 teams from Liga MX and the MLS.
Given the huge fan turnout for the Leagues Cup, with over 1 million total attendance, you can expect soccer aficionados to pack the stadium to see some of the most well-known players in North America, including Rayados stars Jesus Gallardo, Hector Moreno and Rogelio Funes Mori.
This match will be the third international soccer event to take place in the Triangle this summer, following The Soccer Tournament, a 7-on-7 knockout tournament in June, and the soldout FC Series exhibition between Chelsea F.C. and Wrexham A.F.C. in July.
If you plan on attending the match between the Rayados and Atlético de San Luis, here’s a gameday guide:
Getting to the game
The easiest way to get to the game from out of town is by car, as parking at the stadium is manageable.
Traveling eastbound on Interstate 40, take the Cary 54 exit (exit 290). Traveling westbound on I-40, take the Cary Towne Boulevard exit (exit 291).
There is a bus into Cary from the Triangle area (Bus 300), but it’s slow because of all the stops. The stop you’ll want is Chatham Street at WakeMed Soccer Park.
The Amtrak Piedmont line running between Charlotte and Raleigh also stops in Cary. From the train station, it’s about 2 miles east down E. Chatham Street to get to the stadium.
Tailgating at Liga MX friendly at WakeMed Soccer Park
For North Carolina FC games, gates open 90 minutes before kickoff, and the parking lots open 2.5 hours before the match begins. Tailgating is permitted in all stadium lots. We expect a very similar schedule of operations for the Liga MX friendly.
The facility has spacious parking lots, so arrive a few hours before kickoff to enjoy the camaraderie of other fans.
During regular season North Carolina FC and NC Courage games, fans can participate in entertainment activities and promotions, so expect the same during the Liga MX friendly.
This event should feature some unique pregame entertainment options, and if there’s one way to get involved, meet people and enjoy the action, it’s to bring some food and drinks to share.
An ice chest on wheels makes a perfect entry ticket to any tailgate, and you’ve got a guaranteed seat.
Tickets and stadium policies
WakeMed Soccer Park’s capacity is 10,000. Tickets are available via Ticketmaster and begin at $25 each for standard admission.
Many fans prefer the upper-level seats on the east side of the stadium. Those have a great view because of the higher angle, and they have a backrest, unlike many of the lower-level bleacher seats.
Ticket purchases include a complimentary ticket to the North Carolina FC vs. Union Omaha match on Sept. 29.
Handicap-accessible seating is available. Call the park at 919-459-8144 for accessible seating options.
Check out the list of approved and prohibited items (it’s quite long and definitely worth a view before you head out the door) on the official website of WakeMed Soccer Park and the detailed bag policy provided by North Carolina FC.
Liga MX is regarded as the strongest soccer league in North America.
Rayados, one of Mexico’s oldest and most popular clubs, should be the favorite in the match. With a star-laden roster, Rayados is undefeated in Liga MX and sits in second place in league standings as of mid-August. The team made it to the third-place playoff in the Leagues Cup. The franchise is also a five-time winner of the CONCACAF Champions League.
Rayados’ sister club, Rayadas, has a home-and-home partnership this year with NC Courage.
Atlético de San Luis is in sixth place in the Liga MX standings. The New England Revolution knocked the team out of the Leagues Cup during a group stage finale. A newcomer to Liga MX, the team joined the league in 2019.
The presenter of the match is the Latino Community Auto Center.
“This is another example of our commitment to bringing global soccer to our community. Our region is brimming with a Hispanic and Latinx population that has a massive appetite for soccer and Liga MX. We are excited about this opportunity to showcase high-level soccer, passionate players, and equally passionate supporters right here in the Triangle,” said Francie Gottsegen, president of the North Carolina Football Club.
Broadcast details for the match have not been announced yet, but follow @TheNCCourage and @NorthCarolinaFC on X, formerly Twitter, for updates.
Image: Andy Clayton-King / AP photo