Sunday, July 15, 2012

World Football Challenge Kicks Off on Wednesday

Recent weeks have been slow in international soccer ever since Spain closed out Euro 2012 with a thorough dismantling of Italy in the final. As the major European leagues begin training for the coming season, a number of outstanding exhibition matches are coming up on North American soil as part of the Herbalife World Football Challenge. This exhibition tournament features some of the best clubs in Europe and a few MLS squads. All nine matches in the tournament will be televised in English in the US, and all but one will be shown live. Here is the schedule:

July 18 - Seattle Sounders FC v Chelsea FC (9:30 pm ET on ESPN2) in Seattle, Washington
One of the most popular teams in the US, the Sounders and their passionate fan base will host Chelsea, winners of this past year's Champions League.

July 21 - Toronto FC v Liverpool FC (4 pm ET on Fox Soccer) in Toronto, Canada
One of the newer teams in the MLS will host Liverpool, which is coming off a disappointing season but remains a popular team throughout the world.

July 22 - Chelsea FC v Paris Saint-Germain (7 pm ET on Fox Soccer) in New York City, New York
The first of two matches in Yankee Stadium, Chelsea will take on PSG, which is a perennial contender in France's top league and is making significant roster upgrades to contend in the upcoming season's Champions League.

July 28 - Chelsea FC v AC Milan (6 pm ET on ESPN2) in Miami, Florida
Chelsea continues its trek across the US by taking on one of Italy's best clubs.

July 28 - D.C. United v Paris Saint-Germain (7:30 pm ET - tape delay on Fox Soccer at 10 pm) in Washington, DC
DC United has been one of the top teams in the MLS this season, so they will likely not be an easy draw for PSG in its second and final WFC match.

Aug. 2 - LA Galaxy v Real Madrid (10:30 pm ET on ESPN2) in Carson, California near Los Angeles
Last year's MLS champions have struggled a bit this season, but they had better be in top form as they host Cristiano Ronaldo's Real squad, semifinalists in last season's Champions League.
Aug. 5 - Real Madrid v Santos Laguna (11 pm ET on Fox Soccer) in Las Vegas, Nevada
Real will take on the defending champions of Mexico in what should be a spirited Sin City environment.

Aug. 8 - Real Madrid v AC Milan (8 pm ET on ESPN2) in New York City, New York
Real and Milan have been two of Europe's best clubs in recent years, so this is a classic waiting to happen in Yankee Stadium.

Aug. 11 - Real Madrid v Celtic FC (1:30 pm ET on ESPN2) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The final match in this tournament pits Real against the defending champions of the Scottish Premier League.

*Also of note, the MLS All-Star Team will once again take on a top-flight European club in its All-Star Game, facing Chelsea on July 25 at 8:30 pm in Chester, Pennsylvania near Philadelphia (televised on ESPN2).

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