FC Barcelona versus Real Madrid. Manchester United versus Manchester City. The biggest rivalries in European club soccer will be rekindled this off-season, but the pitch will be neutral – they will be played on American soil in July. The 2017 International Champions Cup will once again bring the top European sides to the United States for a series of attractive summer friendlies.
The International Champions Cup, an event organized by Stephen M. Ross and Relevent Sports, is now in its fifth year. It is played primarily in the United States, but has been expanded in recent years to include games in China, Australia and Europe. Though the clubs use the tournament as a way to facilitate training during the off-season, it also plays an important role in expanding global fan bases, giving fans across the world the chance to see their favorite club in person.
The tournament has been very successful in the United States, with amazing attendance figures. The University of Michigan “Big House” has twice had more than 100,000 fans for ICC matches, including a record U.S. soccer attendance figure of 109,318 fans who paid to see Manchester United play Real Madrid in 2014.
This year’s tournament will feature some of the greatest European clubs. Premier League clubs Manchester United, Manchester City, and Tottenham Hotspur will all be here. From Spain, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, the top two teams from La Liga, will join. From Italy, Juventus and Roma, the top two teams in Serie A, will also appear. Superstar-laden French side PSG rounds out the field. It is an impressive lineup – last year’s Champions league finalists, and eight teams that all have a legitimate shot at next year’s Champions League crown.
The most anticipated game is Barcelona versus Real Madrid, or “El Clasico Miami.” The two sides will meet outside of Spain for only the second time, the only other game a 1982 meeting in Venezuela. The game will take place July 29 at Hard Rock Stadium, home of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins, Miami University football, and the Orange Bowl.
Only slightly less highly anticipated is the match between Manchester United and Manchester City. Managers Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola and their talented squads will square off at Houston’s NRG Stadium on July 20th. NRG Stadium, with a capacity of 72,000, hosted the 2016 Final Four and Super Bowls XXXVIII (2004) and LI (2017). The city rivals have played 173 times since 1902, but amazingly, this is the first time they will have met outside of England.
A wide variety of stadiums across the U.S. will be venues for the 12 tournament games. The opening game, Roma against PSG, will be played at Detroit’s Comerica Park, home of Major League Baseball’s Detroit Tigers. Only one MLS stadium, Red Bull Arena in New Jersey, will host a game – it’s the smallest venue at a 25,000-seat capacity. The largest stadium in use this year will be the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, capacity 93,000 – a historical gem from 1927 which hosted the Olympics in 1932 and 1984, as well as Super Bowl I.
Most of the games will be played at NFL stadiums because of their massive capacities. In the East, games will be played at MetLife Stadium, home of the New York Jets and New York Giants, as well as the Washington Redskins’ FedEx Field and the New England Patriots’ Gillette Stadium. Games will also be held at the Tennessee Titans’ Nissan Stadium and the San Francisco 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium. Camping World Stadium in Orlando (shown above), former home of Orlando City SC, will also be used.
Like in years past, the International Champions Cup brings the biggest club teams in European soccer to America. This year, the addition of the biggest historical, geographical and cultural rivalries in European football will make the tournament even more interesting. American fans will, perhaps for the first time, have the opportunity to experience a taste of meaningful European club football.
Tickets for the event are available via Ticketmaster, and all games will be broadcast on ESPN.
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