With eight of the top teams from Europe and the United States going head-to-head on American soil, it was not a surprise that the ICC was a major success.MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- The city of Miami was buzzing for the final round of the Guinness International Champions Cup.
Fans wearing jerseys of the eight participating teams - Chelsea, Real Madrid, Everton, Juventus, Inter Milan, AC Milan, Valencia and the LA Galaxy - flocked to South Beach during the day and then made their way up to Sun Life Stadium for two days of soccer featuring some of the world's top clubs and players.
The atmosphere at the stadium was much like a regular-season NFL game as a nearly sold-out crowd of 67,273 watched the Galaxy and AC Milan battle for third place before Chelsea and Real Madrid faced off for the title in the inaugural competition that was played in Spain and across the United States over the past two weeks.
"I think in the United States has demonstrated for more than 20 years now that we have fans of European football, no question about it," LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said after his team suffered a 2-0 loss to AC Milan on Wednesday. "They want to see these great teams and great players, and they come out in great numbers. You can't argue that."
Although it was a preseason tournament for the European clubs, there was certainly a competitive tone to the matches while players had the opportunity to get in game shape for the long seasons ahead. It also allowed coach's the chance to evaluate their current talent.
"This is when you have to see the partnerships and how players interact with each other," Everton head coach Roberto Martinez said. "We had the opportunity to play against the best back three in the world in Juventus in the first game. Then we played against maybe the best counter-attacking football [club] in Real Madrid. And today we played against a very well-structured and organized team who knows how to keep the ball, so it was a very good test."
Valencia head coach Miroslav Dukic also believes the tournament was the perfect place to pit his players against several of soccer's biggest names with the La Liga season opener just days away. He was honored to be in the same class as the other clubs selected for the competition.
"This is a big tournament that is well-organized and we are proud to have played our part," he said. "We are happy we've been able to show we are up there with the big teams and we belong with them. We played well today in Miami and we're thankful for all the support and friendliness we've received on our trip."
Overall, all those involved were pleased with the outcome of the Guinness International Champions Cup. Even for the Galaxy, who participated despite being in the middle of Major League Soccer's season, the benefits of competing certainly outweighed any negatives.
Arena would like to see more MLS teams have a shot against the world's best next summer.
"I think it's a tournament that could have a great future in this country," Arena said. "I think it's a great opportunity for us. A tournament like this, you should have American teams playing."
And you can be sure the fans will come out to watch whoever is chosen for the next ICC tournament.
"This was a great opportunity to see the best teams in the world all at once, so I had to come down and check it out," said Madrid fan Haim Cohen of Brooklyn, N.Y. "When else could we watch these players in your own backyard? It was definitely worth the trip and I hope this tournament continues each year."