As part of their 2010 summer tour of North America, Manchester United will take part in the MLS All-Star Game, it was announced today. The match will take place at Reliant Stadium (Houston) on July 28, with the 18-time champions of England facing-off against a team of select Major League Soccer stars.
United's North American tour will start with training camp in Chicago ahead of a July 16 meeting with Scotland's Celtic at Rogers Center in Toronto. From there, the Red Devils travel to Philadelphia for a friendly against the Union on July 21. On July 25, United will be in Kansas City to play the Wizards before the 28th's All-Star Game.
On July 30, the Red Devils conclude their trip in Guadalajara, Mexico, as they open Chivas's new stadium as part of their purchase agreement for striker Javier Hernández.
Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson, through the club's web site, said he had fond memories of the team's trips to the States in 2003 and 2004:
"It’s great to be going back to North America. I enjoyed the last two tours there in 2003 and 2004 immensely. The quality of the facilities is outstanding and there is a real enthusiasm in the crowds. It’s especially pleasing to be going in a World Cup year, when the interest in football will be at its height."
Though the World Cup may keep a number of Manchester United players from taking part in the tour, the club's web site confirmed the traveling squad is expected to feature Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Edwin van der Sar, Darren Fletcher, Antonio Valencia, John O'Shea, Michael Owen and Dimitar Berbatov. Federico Macheda, Rafeal da Silva and Fabio da Silva are also mentioned as likely participants.
Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber, on the league's web site, hailed United's arrival as a "celebration:"
"Manchester United are among the most recognized and successful clubs in the world, and we are pleased to have them compete against our All-Stars and two MLS clubs this summer."
"We are proud to once again present our supporters with one of the most compelling All-Star game formats in sports and we believe Manchester United’s North American tour will be a tremendous celebration of the sport following the 2010 World Cup in South Africa."
Given the size of the crowds anticipated for Manchester United, each of United's U.S. dates will be played in stadia normally used by the National Football League. The Philadelphia match will take play at Lincoln Financial Field as opposed to PPL Park. The friendly against the Wizards will take place at Arrowhead Stadium instead of CommunityAmerica Ballpark, while the All-Star Game will be played at Reliant as opposed to the Houston Dynamo's Robertson Stadium.
Manchester United becomes the fifth English Premier League team to take part in the All-Star Game since the event moved adopted this format. In previous years, Chelsea, Everton, Fulham and West Ham United have played against MLS all-stars.