Manchester United and Major League Soccer announced Thursday that the storied English club will embark on another tour of the U.S. this summer. But the 2010 edition will be unlike any other.
For the first time in club history, the Red Devils will take on MLS opposition, highlighted by their taking on MLS' best in the 2010 AT&T MLS All-Star Game on July 28 at Reliant Stadium in Houston (8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and TeleFutura). Before the MLS All-Stars take their crack at the 18-time English champions, the expansion Philadelphia Union (July 21 at time TBD) and the Kansas City Wizards (July 25 at 6 p.m. ET) will get their shot.
“Manchester United are among the most recognized and successful clubs in the world, and we are pleased to have them compete against our All-Stars and two MLS clubs this summer,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said. “We are proud to once again present our supporters with one of the most compelling All-Star game formats in sports and we believe Manchester United’s North American tour will be a tremendous celebration of the sport following the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.”
In the lead-up to the MLS friendlies, ManU’s North American travels will see them take on Scottish giants Celtic at the Rogers Centre in Toronto on July 16.
“It’s great to be going back to North America,” Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said. “I enjoyed the last two tours there in 2003 and 2004 immensely. The quality of the facilities is outstanding and there is real enthusiasm in the crowds. It’s especially pleasing to be going in a World Cup year, when interest in football will be at its height.”
The 2010 AT&T MLS All-Star Game will mark the seventh time the best of MLS have faced international opposition. Most of these games have come against English Premier League opposition, including Chelsea, Everton, Fulham and West Ham. The league side has fared very well over the years, with the only loss coming last year on penalty kicks against Everton.
Given the crowds expected for the matches, the Union will host Manchester United at Lincoln Financial Field while the Kansas City Wizards will make a return to Arrowhead Stadium. ManU have played twice before at the Linc, drawing 68,396 in 2003 against Barcelona and dropping a result to Celtic in front of 55,421 fans in July 2004, during their last tour on this side of the Atlantic.
The 2010 tour will be the first trip to the U.S. for Manchester United under the American ownership of the Glazer family. No pronouncements have yet been made on what squad United plan on traveling. Must remains to be seen on the impact of the World Cup, which could affect the availability of superstar striker Wayne Rooney, recent Mexican acquisition Javier “Chicharito” Hernández and Serbian defender Nemanja Vidic.
However, with established stars like Ryan Giggs, Dimitar Berbatov and Paul Scholes, the excitement for the tour is sure to reach fever pitch—even more so if Manchester United can somehow overcome Chelsea for the EPL title this weekend. Chelsea have a one-point lead over United with one game to go.
Manchester United North American Tour Schedule
July 16: vs. Celtic, Rogers Centre, Toronto, ON
July 21: vs. Philadelphia Union, Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA
July 25: vs. Kansas City wizards, Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO
July 28: vs. MLS All Star Team, Reliant Stadium, Houston, TX