D.C. United and Chicago Fire to take on soccer powers Chelsea and A.C. Milan
NEW YORK - Two of the world's most prominent soccer clubs will take on two of Major League Soccer's top teams when English Premier League Champion Chelsea and 2005 UEFA Champion's League runner-up A.C. Milan travel to the United States in late July to take on reigning MLS Cup Champion D.C. United and the three-time Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup champion Chicago Fire in the 2005 World Series of Football. Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), in conjunction with Soccer United Marketing (SUM), announced that the four-match World Series of Football will take place in Boston, Chicago, Washington D.C. and the New York/New Jersey area from July 24 through July 31, 2005.
The first game of the 2005 World Series of Football will feature Chelsea taking on A.C. Milan on Sunday, July 24 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA. Milan will then head to Chicago, IL to face 1998 MLS Cup champion Chicago Fire in Soldier Field on Wednesday, July 27 at 9:00 p.m. The following night, July 28, D.C. United will host Chelsea in Washington D.C.'s FedEx Field in a battle of the champions of England and the United States in a match that will be televised live on ESPN2 at 8:00 pm ET. The series comes to an end on Sunday, July 31 when A.C. Milan and Chelsea square off in a re-match, this time at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
"American soccer fans around the country will eagerly look forward to this opportunity for MLS clubs to match up against two of the world's superpowers," said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. "With the Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game on Saturday, July 30 against English Premier League club Fulham, the last week of July will prove to be a historic one as MLS takes on the world."
"With A.C. Milan and Chelsea FC we have arguably the two best and most important football teams in the world," said AEG President Tim Leiweke. "As they both have been extremely competitive at the highest level of professional soccer this should be a fantastic World Series of Football."
In anticipation of their celebration of their 100th year, Chelsea won the 2005 English Premiership with 95 points on the campaign, posting a record of 28 wins, eight ties and only one loss during the regular season. The 2005 crown was Chelsea's first League title in 50 years, having last claimed the honors in 1955. Among the club's international stars are English national team regulars Joe Cole (M), John Terry (D), and Frank Lampard (M), Ireland's Damien Duff (M), Arjen Robben (F) of Holland, Iceland's Eidur Gudjohnsen (F), France's Claude Makelele (M) and Ivory Coast's Didier Drogba (F). Chelsea is owned by Russian businessman Roman Abramovich and is led by manager Jose Mourinho, who managed FC Porto to the Champion's League title prior to joining the English club in June of 2004. In his first season at the helm, Mourinho led Chelsea to the 2005 Carling League Cup title and the UEFA Champions League Semifinals.
A six-time European Champion, A.C. Milan is owned by Fininvest, the holding company of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, and managed by Carlo Ancelotti. In 106 years of existence, the storied franchise has won 17 Serie A titles, most recently winning the 2004 League title. The Italian superpower finished second in the 2005 UEFA Champion's League, falling to Liverpool in penalty kicks after tying 3-3 during regulation this past May. Milan also has a star-studded international lineup featuring current and former Italian national team standouts Paolo Maldini (D), Alessandero Nesta (D), Filippo Inzaghi (F), and Andrea Pirlo (M), Brazil's Dida (GK), Kaká (F), and Cafu (D), Holland's Jaap Stam (D) and Clarence Seedorf (M), and the current holder of the Golden Ball as the 2004 European Most Valuable Player, Ukrain's Andriy Shevchenko.
D.C. United and the Chicago Fire, both owned by AEG, have combined to win five of Major League Soccer's first nine MLS Cup championships and four of the nine Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup titles since MLS started in 1996. Between the two, the teams have played in seven of the nine MLS Cups and have captured three Supporters' Shields, a trophy established by the fans to recognize the teams with the best overall record in regular season play.
As a charter member of Major League Soccer, United won the first ever MLS Cup by defeating the Los Angeles Galaxy 3-2 in the League's inaugural 1996 season. D.C. dominated the early years of MLS, making four consecutive appearances in the MLS Cup Championship game, also winning in 1997 and 1999. In 2004, United won their League-record fourth MLS Cup, defeating Kansas City 3-2 under the direction of former Poland international Peter Nowak. Led by the club's all-time leading scorer Jaime Moreno, United also features U.S. national team pool players Ben Olsen, Alecko Eskandarian, Nick Rimando and rising star Freddy Adu on the current squad.
Since 1997, D.C. United has traveled across the globe and battled 25 clubs from 13 countries. The list of clubs is an impressive one, including Germany's Bayer Leverkusen, Mexico's Club America, Toluca, and UNAM Pumas, Vasco da Gama of Brazil, and Argentina's Boca Juniors among others. D.C. United has also played five friendlies against teams from England and has yet to lose: 1-1 vs. Leeds United (May 16, 1997); 3-1 vs. Newcastle United (July 22, 2000); 1-0 at Tottenham Hotspur (October 17, 2002); 1-0 vs. Tottenham Hotspur (May 14, 2003); and 1-1 vs. Blackburn Rovers (July 23, 2003 - DC won on penalty kicks).
In only its third year of play, D.C. pulled off what is arguably the greatest triumph ever for American club soccer in international competition. D.C. won the 1998 CONCACAF Champion's Cup as the best club in the region and went on to defeat South American Champion Vasco de Gama of Brazil to win the InterAmerican Cup.
MLS Cup Champions in 1998 and Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup champions in 1998 and 2003, the Chicago Fire feature long-time U.S. national team midfielder Chris Armas and goalkeeper Zach Thornton, Slovakia's Lubos Reiter, Honduras' Ivan Guerrero and Samuel Caballero, and Costa Rica's Andy Herron.
Similar to D.C. United, Chicago has a successful track record against international opponents, posting a 10-5-1 record with victories against clubs such as Germany's Hamburg (5-1 in 2001), Poland's Legia Warsaw (3-2 in 1999), England's Derby County (1-0 in 2001) and Mexico's Pumas (1-0 in 1998). Among other teams they have played against are Mexico's Toluca, Chivas de Guadalajara, and Morelia, as well as clubs from Costa Rica, Jamaica, and Guatemala.
2005 WORLD SERIES OF FOOTBALL
Sunday, July 24
AC Milan vs. Chelsea FC
Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA - Time is TBD
Wednesday, July 27
AC Milan vs. Chicago Fire
Soldier Field, Chicago, at 9 pm ET
Thursday, July 28
Chelsea vs. D.C. United
FedEx Field, Washington D.C. at 8:00 p.m. ET on ESPN2
Sunday, July 31
AC Milan vs. Chelsea FC
Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ - Time is TBD