A total of seven European sides will join the MLS giants for a new eight-team pre-season tournament based in the USA this summer, with one first-round match staged in Europe
By Zac Lee Rigg
Real Madrid, Juventus and Inter will join LA Galaxy in the inaugural Guiness International Champions Cup this summer.
The pre-season tournament, which runs from July 27 to August 4, will feature seven European sides as well as the MLS giants, and will take place in the USA.
Jose Mourinho's side have been confirmed as participants, along with the Serie A duo and Galaxy, with the other sides and principal venues to be announced in the next two weeks.
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.
"Everyone in this tournament has a rich history. 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 glamour 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."
All eight teams will convene in Miami's Sun Life Stadium on August 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 plan to begin their pre-season 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 explained. "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, and club president Chris Klein said that the new tournament will "most likely" be the only mid-season friendlies in which they will take part.
"We have a crowded schedule," Klein told Goal.com.
Fox have signed a long-term deal to broadcast the event, while Guiness have been named as the main sponsor for the tournament.
"Guinness & Co. is a well-known supporter and champion for sports around the world and we are very excited to be involved with such a groundbreaking international soccer event here in the United States," said Doug Campbell, Guiness Brand Director.