MIAMI – Real Madrid first came to the United States in 1927. It will visit once again, for the 15th time, this summer as part of the newly-created Guinness International Champions Cup.
The preseason tournament will feature eight teams, seven from Europe, in a knockout-style format from July 27 through Aug. 4.
The confirmed participants include Real Madrid, Juventus, Internazionale and LA Galaxy. The remaining four clubs and the specific stadia will be announced within two weeks.
Fox Soccer will broadcast 11 of the 12 games, with Fox Sports picking up a game on Aug. 3. Fox Deportes will likely offer Spanish broadcasts as well, according to Fox analyst Eric Wynalda. Fox Sports 1 will show the tournament in future years. (Fox signed a multi-year agreement.)
The eight teams will play the first round of matches in Indianapolis, San Francisco, Phoenix and a to-be-determined European venue. The second round will take place in Los Angeles and New York.
"When we were putting this together, we wanted to make it a real tournament," Relevent Sports CEO Charlie Stillitano told Goal.com. "We wanted to give it the feel of the Champions League, if you will."
All eight teams will convene in Miami's Sun Life Stadium on Aug. 6 and 7 for a pair of double-headers. These include the seventh-place, fifth-place and third-place playoff games, as well as the final. Each team will play three games overall.
"When [Stillitano] mentioned this new format of the tournament with the two conferences, eight teams, four finals, immediately my coach and my chairman appreciated this idea," Inter managing director Marco Fassone told Goal.com. "'Yes, of course we will come,' and we are here."
Inter plans to start its preseason six to seven weeks before the Serie A season begins. After a retreat into the mountains, the club will play several “easy” friendlies and one “difficult” one before flying stateside for the tournament.
"They will be tough games, important games," Fassone said. "When we are back in Europe, I think that we will be ready to play eventual preliminary matches in either the Champions League or Europa League."
LA Galaxy will be the only team in the middle of its season. Galaxy president Chris Klein said that the new tournament will "most likely" max out the team's mid-season friendlies for the year.
"We have a crowded schedule," Klein told Goal.com.
Stillitano pointed out that every club involved has won a European cup, a league title or a domestic cup within the past two years. The Galaxy, winners of the past two MLS Cups, will be North America's only representative.
"Everyone in this tournament has a rich history," Stillitano said. "Every time you hear the LA Galaxy's name, you hear it as sort of – for lack of a better word – the team that has the most glamor in MLS. We thought it'd be good to give them an opportunity to show their stuff, and at a real competitive level.
"It gives MLS a chance to shine, in my mind."
Stillitano also thought the tournament could help Miami's case to secure an MLS team of its own. The league seems intent on adding a club in New York City first, but MLS commissioner Don Garber frequently mentions the need to place an expansion side south of D.C.
"I think that whoever's going to deal with MLS is going to look at this and say, 'Hey, this is a good barometer as to whether or not a team can sustain itself here,'" Stillitano said.
Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross devised the idea for this tournament a year ago, according to Matt Higgins, CEO of RSE Ventures, which Ross co-founded. Relevent Sports, which will run the event, is a division of RSE Ventures.
Stillitano said that Miami's continued role as host hinges on the planned renovations to Sun Life Stadium. Voters will decide on May 14 if the public will help to subsidize a $350 million development deal for the Miami Dolphins stadium.
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