World Cup heroes to join U.S. tour
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Three of Spain’s World Cup-winning heroes have decided to cut short their summer holiday and play against the Los Angeles Galaxy on Aug. 7.
Iker Casillas, Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos, all key members of the victorious Spanish side that clinched soccer’s grandest trophy in South Africa two weeks ago, have been confirmed as part of the Real Madrid squad that will take on the Galaxy in an exhibition at the Rose Bowl.
It was originally thought the trio would miss out on their club’s preseason tour of the United States, with new head coach Jose Mourinho determined to ensure they avoid fatigue ahead of the grueling European campaign. However, Spain captain Casillas, midfield star Alonso and right-back Ramos will make the trip, arriving a week after the rest of the Madrid party, which will also include former world players of the year Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka.
If any of the 736 players at the World Cup could be forgiven for taking extra rest it would be Casillas, Alonso and Ramos. Casillas played every minute of Spain’s seven matches and hoisted aloft the trophy at Soccer City in Johannesburg just 11 days ago. Alonso and Ramos both played pivotal roles and displayed great bravery, with Alonso on the receiving end of a horrendous challenge from Netherlands midfielder Nigel de Jong in the final and Ramos sustaining a brutal kick to the face in the quarterfinal win over Paraguay.
“We are greatly looking forward to seeing them and the other Madrid stars,” said Tom Payne, manager of business operations for the Galaxy. “A lot of people saw the tremendous achievement of the Spanish team in winning the World Cup and these three players all excelled at the highest level.
“For their return to action to be in the United States is great for American soccer and great for us. We have made it part of our charter to stage these high-profile games against some of the best teams in the world.”
Tickets are still available for the match, which will be broadcast live on cable television, with a crowd of more than 90,000 expected.
Madrid finished second behind Barcelona in last season’s Spanish league but remains one of the most glamorous teams on the planet, boasting an array of superstars.
The side will take on Mexico’s Club America in San Francisco on Aug. 4, but will be primarily based in Los Angeles.
After leaving the United States, Mourinho’s men will begin their new La Liga season at Real Mallorca on Aug. 28.