European soccer giants Real Madrid will visit the United States this July for a brief tour that will include matches against the Los Angeles Galaxy and CD Guadalajara in Chicago. The news was revealed Thursday afternoon in a media teleconference call with Real Madrid vice president and director of sport Emilio Butragueño and representatives of Major League Soccer, the Chicago Fire, the Los Angeles Galaxy and Soccer United Marketing.
"It is very important for Real Madrid to go to the United States," said Butragueño. "Major League Soccer is doing a great job to introduce soccer into the U.S. Our relationship with MLS is very, very good. We are convinced that this tour is going to be very successful and we are very excited."
"We view this as a chance to take on one of the world's best and pit them against two of the region's best teams," said MLS Commissioner and Soccer United Marketing CEO Don Garber. "The goal of Soccer United Marketing is to grow the game overall, not just our teams and our league, but also (to create) relationships with the international community and use it as a way to continue to educate, inform and entertain."
The team that has won an unprecedented 29 Spanish league titles and nine European Cups will make their first stop in Chicago on July 16, where they will participate in a doubleheader in conjunction with the Chicago Fire vs. Columbus Crew match at Soldier Field. Following that Eastern Conference clash, the Spanish side will face off with one of the elite teams from Mexico, Club Deportivo Guadalajara (Chivas).
"Thank you to Emilio Butragueño and Real Madrid for this opportunity because this is barely after the final of the (Copa) Libertadores and we're going to win it, so it's going to be the champion of the Libertadores against Real Madrid," said CD Guadalajara and Chivas USA owner and president Jorge Vergara. "Of course, it's a pleasure and an honor to be able to play Real Madrid and be able to beat them in the game."
Real Madrid will then venture west to America's premier soccer venue, The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., to take on the Galaxy, on either July 18 or 19. With a seating capacity of 27,000, the match will provide fans with the chance to see one of the world's greatest teams in an extremely intimate environment.
"We look forward to the opportunity to test ourselves against one of the worlds most successful clubs," said Galaxy president and general manager Doug Hamilton. "Southern California is looking forward to the match."
Butragueño insisted that Real will bring their full complement of stars, which includes the likes of David Beckham, Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos, Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane, Raul and Michael Owen.
"All of our players will be there, all of our stars," he said. "Real Madrid wants to do well and to offer a great performance and I understand that American fans hope to see a great match. You can be sure that you will see all of our famous players."
The announcement of the Real Madrid visit follows closely on the heels of last week's revelation that English Premier League champions Chelsea FC and Italian Serie A legends AC Milan have made summer plans to play in the States. The two will meet on July 24 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., before the Italians take off for the Windy City to face the Chicago Fire three days later at Soldier Field.
Chelsea will square off with four-time MLS Cup champion D.C. United on July 28 at 8 p.m. ET at FedEx Field live on ESPN2, before the two European clubs meet for a second time on July 31 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
Jonathan Nierman is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.