By Clemente Lisi – NEW YORK, NY (Jun 27, 2022) US Soccer Players – After the pandemic suspended the regular European preseason touring schedule, the summer of soccer has returned to the United States. While Major League Soccer offers games that count, the summer touring schedule provides the opportunity to see some of the biggest clubs in the world here rather than there. In a summer with no major national team tournaments, the club game gets the spotlight in a different version of a World Cup year.
With the summer of 2020 used to finish out pandemic suspended league seasons and European competitions, last summer saw clubs staying closer to home for their preseasons. This summer is a return to business as usual.
European clubs on tour in the United States are about branding and global appeal as well as preparing for the upcoming season. That’s not a new concept to American fans, already willing to pay to see their favorites. It’s also important following COVID-19’s impact on the business of soccer.
There are lots of teams coming to American stadiums over the next few weeks, including Chelsea, Arsenal, Everton, Manchester City, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, and newly-crowned UEFA Champions League winners Real Madrid. Barca and Real will be staging a preseason version of El Clasico on July 23 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. It’s not the first El Clasico on US soil. The two met in 2017 at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium.
In many cases, the touring clubs will not only play one another but also face MLS challengers as they barnstorm across the country. MLS teams are willing to disrupt their regular seasons because of the tremendous upside these games can represent. It puts MLS on a bigger stage, attracting the type of attention that increases the visibility of clubs in some markets and raises the profile of the local team even higher in others. Barcelona will play Inter Miami on July 19 and the New York Red Bulls on July 30. On July 20, Arsenal plays Orlando City, Chelsea is at Charlotte FC, DC United hosts Bayern Munich, and Minnesota faces Everton.
AEG has put together the Soccer Champions Tour ’22 with Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Juventus, along with Liga MX sides Club America and Chivas. These are big market games in large stadiums, starting with Juventus playing Chivas at Allegiant Stadium on July 22. The tour continues with the Las Vegas version of the El Clasico the following day at Allegiant Stadium. On July 26, Real Madrid plays Club America at Oracle Park in San Francisco, and Barcelona meets Juventus at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. The schedule concludes with Real Madrid playing Juventus on June 30 at the Rose Bowl.
Tour sponsor AEG said in its announcement that it is “excited to launch this unparalleled soccer tour as five of the most exceptional soccer clubs in the world return to the United States this summer.”
The European summer tours are also a chance to see American players before they head to Europe for the season. Juventus features USMNT midfielder Weston McKennie, who will certainly get lots of adulation from US fans during games.
We’ll also get to see a familiar face in a new shirt. Matt Turner is now officially a member of Arsenal. He could get minutes when the Gunners play face Everton on July 16, Orlando City at Exploria Stadium on July 20, and Christian Pulisic’s Chelsea at Orlando’s Camping World Stadium on July 23. For Arsenal, the tour will mark the ninth preseason visit to the US since 2004.
“We’re very pleased to see our preseason plans taking shape with the announcement of our trip to the United States to take part in the FC Series,” Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said in a news release. “It’s been a long time since we’ve seen our fans in the US, and we’re looking forward to playing in front of them. We’ll be playing some good sides that will provide strong opposition and the training and matchday facilities in Orlando will provide a first-class environment for our preparations for next season.”
Zack Steffen’s Manchester City is also in the United States, playing Club America at Houston’s NRG Stadium on July 20 and then Bayern Munich at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin on July 23. Bayern opens against DC United at Audi Field on July 20.
Chelsea’s tour starts with training in LA before opening against Club America at Allegiant Stadium on July 16 and then playing Charlotte FC at Bank of America Stadium on July 20.
“The plan is if they play for their national teams, they will come back one week later than the rest on July 9,” Tuchel said last month about the preseason. “Hopefully we can do this and have everybody for the preseason because it’s a preseason where you have at least four weeks together and not a lot of groups are coming at different timings. It’s more or less two groups and then we have to be quick to adapt to the qualities and the personalities of any new guys.”
What Tuchel describes is the situation for most of the elite clubs. It’s a unique 2022-23 season with a World Cup break in November and December, meaning a different version of those familiar challenges in building a successful club squad.
Clemente Lisi is a regular contributor to US Soccer Players. He is also the author of A History of the World Cup: 1930-2018.
More from Clemente Lisi:
- Waiting on the September FIFA window
- Three games in for the USMNT in the June, 2022 window
- The changing perception of soccer in the United States
- Preview: The 2022-23 Concacaf Nations League
Photo by Allegiant Stadium