Written by Rudy Madrigal

It’s nothing new that the L.A. Galaxy will be playing Spanish power Real Madrid this summer. However, what is new is that it will be part of a new inaugural summer tournament with 8 teams consisting of two brackets, East and West. Juventus, Everton Real Madrid and LA Galaxy will compete in the West bracket with AC Milan, Valencia, Inter Milan and Chelsea competing in the East.

The tournament play will begin July 27 at Mestalla Stadium in Valencia, Spain before migrating to the United States. Valencia is the only European city that will host a match with the other venues being Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, AT&T Park in San Francisco, Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, University of Phoenix Stadium in Phoenix, Met Life Stadium in Rutherford New Jersey (listed as New York?!?!?) and Sun Life Stadium in Miami for the final on August 7. For the complete schedule by date click here. For the complete schedule by bracket click here.

Each team is guaranteed three matches with L.A. playing at least one game at home in L.A. at the legendary Dodger Stadium (fun fact: this will the be the FIRST soccer game to take place in Chavez Ravine). The Guinness International Championships Cup, as it’s being called, will be good international exposure for teams like Valencia, Everton and the Galaxy who are trying to grow their international brand. It will also be particularly good for the young Galaxy  players who will get the chance to play against top quality players and teams.

While I’m excited for the tournament, especially for Valencia to come to the States again, I do wonder if this will help or hurt the Galaxy’s chances of winning a third successive MLS Championship and becoming another dynasty in Los Angeles. Let’s hope it helps and L.A. gets their third in a row. Move over Lakers!

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Written by The 91st

Robbie Rogers made a dramatic return to soccer on Sunday night. After a whirlwind past few months that included him retiring and revealing that he is gay, Rogers rejoined MLS in front of an approving LA Galaxy crowd.

Rogers became the first openly gay male athlete to participate in a U.S. professional league. As you can see and hear above, he was met with loud cheers from the crowd and great support from his teammates.

A positive night all around for MLS, and professional sports as a whole.

 

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Written by The 91st

Brooklyn

It’s been a big week for the Beckhams and New York. First, David rode off into the soccer sunset, capping a marvelous career, then it was announced New York would be adding a second club to MLS.

Now, a hybrid of the Beckhams and the Big Apple, Brooklyn Beckham – the 14-year-old son of David – has made news of his own by announcing he is joining the Queens Park Rangers Academy. The English club trains near the Beckhams’ home in London.

Brooklyn’s passion for the game has always been obvious, and now it appears he’ll try to follow in the footsteps of his father.

 

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Written by The 91st

NYC

Major League Soccer is adding a second New York team and the Yankees are helping to make it possible. The league announced today that it will add an expansion team New York City Football club beginning in 2015.

Manchester City FC and Major League Baseball’s legendary New York Yankees have teamed up to acquire MLS’s 20th expansion club. Manchester City will be the majority owner, according to the league’s announcement, while the Yankees will play an active role.

Here is the obligatory ‘we’re excited’ quote from commissioner Don Garber:

“This is a transformational development that will elevate the league to new heights in this country. The New York area is home to more than 19 million people, and we look forward to an intense crosstown rivalry between New York City Football Club and the New York Red Bulls that will captivate this great city.”

There is talk of building a new stadium, though it certainly won’t be ready by the start of 2015. Will the league be ready? We’ll see. Red Bulls, you have company.

[MLS Soccer]

 

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Written by Rudy Madrigal

You think you’re a super soccer fan? Think again. The Union Ultras, supporter group of Chivas USA, take things to new levels with their pregame, postgame, and in-game passion. The 91st Minute went behind the scenes for exclusive access with these fans and chatted with a couple Chivas stars about their impact on the club.

Also, check out our behind-the-scenes with LA Galaxy’s Angel City Brigade HERE.

 

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Written by The 91st

Pep

MLS teammates Dax McCarty and Ryan Meara ran into the one and only Pep Guardiola at last night’s New York Knicks game.

We’re not sure what Pep was doing at the game, exactly. Shouldn’t he be planning how not to screw up Bayern Munich next season?

Anyway, McCarty tweeted out this photo and called Pep a ‘legend.’

Pep was quoted as saying: wait … who were those guys, again? (Kidding. Kind of).

 

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Written by Travis Clark

ManCityThe New York Times is reporting that Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour (on the right) is the favorite to become the owner of a 20th Major League Soccer club that would be based New York City.

News and rumors have been swirling in the past few months about the newest MLS team, with the league going on record time and time again to indicate interest in finding a way to add a second team to the market in the New York metropolitan region. This isn’t the first time a link between Manchester City and the new team has emerged either.

Contingent upon the deal is whether or not MLS can reach an agreement with New York in order to build a stadium in Queens. If that goes through, Mansour would pay a reported franchise fee of $100 million to join the league in 2016, with the name of New York City FC floated for the new team.

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Written by Zev Taublieb

kirovski

Can you name the first ever American player to be signed by Manchester United at the age of 16? Can you name the first and only American player who has won a Champions League title? Can you name the current Technical Director of the LA Galaxy?

Tip: They are all the same person. Time’s up!  It is JOVAN KIROVSKI. His 1v1 interview begins now:

 

How did Manchester United see you play?

JK: I went over to England with the US youth national team when I was 16. We played against Manchester United, Liverpool, and other English clubs. A scout from Manchester United invited me for a two-week trial that next summer. United wanted me to play in MILK Cup, a youth international tournament, but their roster was full. They lent me to Glasgow Rangers for the tournament and we ended up winning. I scored 7 goals in 7 games and many clubs wanted me. Manchester United was the obvious choice for me, however. My parents were very supportive and before I knew it I was the youngest and first American playing professional soccer for one of the best teams in the world.

 

You are the only American to win the Champions League. If you had to describe the emotions you felt at the time in one word what would it be?

JK: AMAZING! It was a fantastic experience. I did not think about it then, but the players I was around were the best in the world. We were the Barca of now and I was a player among them.

 

You were only 16 years old and the first American player to be playing abroad. Was it difficult adapting to the your new environment in England with Manchester United?

JK: Being an American was not easy, but once you show them you can play everyone gives you respect.

 

Can you describe your emotions during your first debut for the US national team at 18 years?

JK: GREAT! I was born and raised here! I have played 62 games with the US national team and have played at the youth level as well as in the Olympics. It was always amazing playing for my country. I wanted to be the best!

Kirovski talks playing in Bundesliga and MLS after the jump

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Written by Megan Miller

Portland Thorns

Over the years, female soccer players have always looked up to the U.S. Women’s National Team, or even their favorite EPL or MLS team for inspiration, never having a solid professional league to follow. That all changed when the new National Women’s Soccer League was introduced this year.

With eight teams, each with a handful of U.S., Canadian, and Mexican national team players, the league looked as though it would be a success. I got the opportunity to attend the Thorns FC home opener in Portland this past weekend against the Seattle Reign, and was amazed at what I saw.

I walked into JELD-WEN Stadium on Sunday, expecting a decent-sized crowd; young girls dressed in their soccer uniforms, in particular. I was pleasantly surprised to see that I had drastically underestimated the following that these women would have.

Megan gets a look at Alex Morgan and former teammates after the jump

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Written by Dennis Holowaty

KC

It all started back in 1999 when the Columbus Crew took a gamble and built the long awaited Columbus Crew Stadium. It was the first soccer specific stadium built for the MLS and was a milestone for American soccer.  This stadium led to a domino affect around the league as other teams started rolling out bigger and better stadiums that continue to impress fans.

The most recent additions include BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston and Livestrong Park in Kansas City.  These breathtaking stadiums are cornerstones for the league and provide fans with an unbelievable experience filled with top-notch game presentations, concessions, and amenities that rivals other major sports facilities.

The importance of the stadiums go far beyond the aesthetically pleasing look they possess.  These brand new stadiums showcase the MLS’s growth from its infancy to where it is today.  The transition from old football stadiums to world-class soccer-specific stadiums indicates that the MLS is slowly but surely etching itself a niche in the American market and is making a conscious effort to provide the best fan experience possible.

The American consumer tastes of sporting events are always evolving.  Every league in the United States finds itself trying to figure out the best ways possible to service its fans. The modern fan wants excitement on the field, but also wants a nice place to grab some food and socialize with friends.   In the newer MLS stadiums such as Livestrong Park, you are finding these amenities, concessions, and experiences present.  These upgrades to the atmosphere and presentation of the soccer brand are paying dividends for the franchise and the league.

Newer facilities also provide greater revenue streams that allow MLS franchises to monetize different assets not available before.  Sponsorship sales increase with the different and more prominent avenues in delivering their message. Increased suite and club level seating allow franchises to have a higher return on these more premium seats. New stadium designs allow for greater viewing angles and a better fan experience. More upscale concessions allow for a greater markup and make more money for teams.

Going forward, it is important for MLS franchises to continue to invest in themselves, their players, and the league.  A concerted effort on all fronts will pay great dividends for the leagues in terms of TV contracts, sponsorships, and expansions which will not only benefit the league but also the individual teams.  Soccer is on the rise in America and believe it or not more changes are coming. By making strategic steps forward the MLS will continue to position itself as a top league in the United States.

 

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