Manchester United confirm USA tour ahead of the 2014-2015 season
AFP Thursday, February 6, 2014, 12:04 am TWN
LONDON -- English soccer giants Manchester United have announced that they will return to the United States for a pre-season tour ahead of the 2014-15 campaign in Europe.
The Premier League champions are due to compete in the International Champions Cup alongside fellow English heavyweights Manchester City and Liverpool.
The friendly tournament will also feature European powerhouses Real Madrid, Inter Milan, AC Milan, Roma and Olympiakos, organizers announced on Tuesday.
The eight teams will be split into two groups, with the winners of each pool facing off in the final at Florida's Sun Life Stadium, home of NFL outfit the Miami Dolphins, on Aug. 4.
It is set to be United's fifth pre-season tour of the United States, long considered one of the great undeveloped markets for soccer.
Their most recent visit came in 2011, when the club played four American teams and Spanish side Barcelona across three cities.
However, plans for the tour may be altered if United have to take part in the early qualifying stages of the Champions League or the Europa League in August.
Now managed by David Moyes following the retirement of serial trophy-winner Alex Ferguson, United are currently seventh in the Premier League table — seven points adrift of the Champions League places.
"Teams required to qualify for 2014-15 European competition based on 2013-14 domestic league finishing position may be subject to change," read a statement on United's website.
United managing director Richard Arnold welcomed the tour, saying: "I'm delighted to announce that the team will be returning to the USA for our 2014 Tour, presented by Aon.
"Since the club's last visit in 2011, the appeal of soccer in America has grown rapidly.
"NBC reported that this season's Barclays Premier League opening weekend saw the average viewership rise by 78 percent from the 2012-13 season, with Manchester United's match against Swansea being the most-watched game.
"Manchester United has over eight million followers in the United States and the 2014 Tour presents an exciting opportunity for these fans to get up close to the club they love."
Chicago, Charlotte, Dallas, Denver, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Miami, Washington DC and another two cities will host the International Champions Cup matches.
The schedule for the tournament is due to be announced on Feb. 20.
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