Five things we learned in MLS Week 18 (cont.)
It's high season for high-profile friendlies here. Manchester United and Real Madrid met MLS sides last week and the whackings ensued. Here are the top 10 friendlies still on the docket that involve MLS teams or take place in MLS cities:
1. Man United vs. MLS All-Stars (July 27 at Red Bull Arena): The same matchup got ugly last year, and fast. Sir Alex Ferguson's men put a 5-2 beating on an MLS All-Star team that learned an important lesson about proper preparation and roster balance. This year, MLS coach Hans Backe hopes put together a team that can actually compete.
2. L.A. Galaxy vs. Man City (Sunday at the Home Depot Center): You just know Bruce Arena isn't happy about getting ambushed in L.A. on Saturday by Real Madrid (4-1). Manchester City isn't Real Madrid, but Manchester's "other" club could well challenge for EPL glory this year. This is part of the World Football Challenge, like so many others on the list.
3. Barcelona vs. Man United (July 30 at FedEx Field): Another in the World Football Challenge series, this is the real headliner, a rematch of last year's Champions League final, won so elegantly by the Spaniards. It's being played in Landover, Maryland, down the street from D.C. United's grounds. Both teams left a few stars behind but still brought enough to fill up the marquee. Twice.
4. Seattle Sounders FC vs. Man United (Wednesday at CenturyLink Field): Having properly taken care of MLS business on Saturday with a win over Colorado, the Sounders can lean into this one a bit. From there, United travels east to Chicago to face the Fire on Saturday at Soldier Field.
5. Barcelona vs. Club America (Aug. 6 at Cowboys Stadium): The Catalan giants will face both of Mexico's most popular teams during their U.S. tour, including this one against the heavyweights from Mexico City. Barca also travels to Miami to play Chivas de Guadalajara. The game lost one draw when flashy Mexican international goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa signed 10 days ago to play for France's Ajaccio, but longtime Mexican mainstay Pavel Pardo remains on the roster for now.
6. D.C. United v Everton (Saturday at RFK Stadium): This is second of two for the traveling Toffees, whose official Web site insists they are looking forward to taking advantage of "America's excellent training facilities to step up the squad's preparation for the Premier League season." Ahem. They've seen RFK Stadium, right? Surely goalkeeper Tim Howard has mentioned the rats, cats and raccoons that live in that place?
7. Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. Man City (Monday at Empire Field): After postponing an MLS weekend match to protect the soggy field for their high-profile EPL visitors, 'Caps officials had better get this one played. Seriously, guys, this unpleasant little episode is making everyone look a little bush league around here. City has left a couple of biggies at home, dealing with issues, but England internationals Gareth Barry, Shaun Wright-Phillips and James Milner, plus Edin Dzeko (Bosnia), Mario Balotelli (Italy), David Silva (Spain) and Jerome Boateng (Germany) is a good place to start.
8. Juventus vs. Sporting Clube de Portugal (Saturday at BMO Field): We're a little light on Italian representation in this year's World Football Challenge. But we do get this one, and Juve's provisional squad list includes six members of Italy's 2006 World Cup winning squad: Alessandro Del Piero, Luca Toni, Vincenzo Iaquinta, Andrea Pirlo, Andrea Barzagli and star goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.
9. Sporting Kansas City vs. Newcastle United (Wednesday at Livestrong Sporting Park): Too bad the good soccer fans in the Midwest won't get to see Joey Barton in this one. Newcastle's naughty boy was denied a U.S. entry visa because he served a prison sentence for a 2008 assault conviction. Newcastle finished midtable last year after climbing back into the Premier League.
10. Houston Dynamo vs. Bolton Wanderers (Wednesday at Robertson Stadium): Let's just name this one the Stuart Holden and Friends Tribute Match, shall we? The Bolton man made his bones at Houston before bolting for England's Wanderers and a shot at the big time. Ironically, he won't play Wednesday, still on the mend from a nasty spring injury, so fans in Houston will settle for seeing English internationals Kevin Davies and Gary Cahill, among others. Officially, this is the Dynamo Charity Cup.
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