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Friday, August 23

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Soccer Mon Jun 02 2008

International Soccer in Chicago

With the Fire off this weekend, it’s a good time to talk about the non-MLS soccer games in Chicago this summer. At the top of the list, Barcelona FC will play at Soldier Field August 3. Barcelona features a ridiculously star-studded lineup including Lionel Messi, Ronaldinho, Samuel Eto’o, and Thierry Henry (although some of those names might change during the summer transfer season). Friendlies between European superpowers in Soldier Field have a deservedly bad reputation ever since Manchester United and Bayern Munich reserve teams played one of the worst soccer games of all time there. For that reason I was pretty excited when Chivas Guadalajara was announced as Barcelona’s opponent. Chivas will attract passionate fans, be more willing to make a game out of it than another touring European team, and sad to say, are probably more capable of making a game out of it than an MLS team.

If you can’t wait until August for soccer at Soldier Field, Peru will be taking on Mexico in a friendly there this Sunday. Both teams will be warming up for World Cup Qualifying, but there’s no telling how strong their lineups will be. Seeing Mexico playing home games in Chicago is usually a worthwhile experience no matter the circumstances, though.

Speaking of World Cup Qualifiers, Toyota Park will host a pretty crucial match between Trinidad and Tobago and the U.S. National Team on September 10. Trinidad can be a dark horse (as seen in their qualification and performance in the 2006 World Cup) and it’s a rare chance to see a World Cup Qualifier in Chicago. Plus, the way the U.S. has been playing recently, they'll need all the support they can get.

The Chicago Fire will get in on the international soccer act in late July, taking on English Premiere League team Everton FC. Everton’s one of the few teams that people think can realistically break up the Big Four Monopoly of Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United. They feature the talents of Nigerian striker Yakubu, Spanish winger Miguel Arteta, Australian midfielder Tim Cahil, and American goalkeeper Tim Howard (aka the guy with Tourette’s Syndrome).

Oh, and if you’d rather watch your soccer on TV, the European Championships start on ESPN this Saturday. The European Championships are basically like the World Cup without Argentina, Brazil and a bunch of other teams that wouldn’t have a chance but make for an interesting contrast in styles. With England failing to qualify for the tournament, the chances of seeing some entertaining soccer during the tournament have increased exponentially. I’ll be watching most of the games at my favorite soccer hangout, the Globe, so if you see a nerdy looking guy in glasses wearing Trumer, come say hi.

 
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