Earlier this offseason, I posted a poll and question about what EPL teams you would like to see do a tour of the United States. Since then we have seen Barcelona confirm a three-stop tour of the U.S., where they will be playing both Manchester United (DC) and AC Milan (Miami). But with as large a country as ours, there is plenty of space and a diverse enough fan base in the United States for other European clubs to pay a visit this year .
Today’s question will expand the original to the other three major European leagues: La Liga, Bundesliga, and Serie A. A later post or two will include further European leagues and clubs, so if your favorite European team has not yet been posted, you will have your chance to pick it later. All three of the other major leagues have diverse styles of play and passionate fans in the U.S. who sometimes have to compete for attention with the more popular (and culturally accessible) English Premier League. But a major driver of the popularity of these leagues is immigration – fans root for teams in the country of their descendants or from where they originate. Hence the huge Barcelona and AC Milan followings across the United States.
So here are six clubs that I think would do well to take a tour of the United States this summer who have not already announced any matches. Of course vote for which ones you’d like to see through the poll below and in the comments section:
Inter Milan: The nerazzurri hit hard times under Rafa Benitez but slowly seem to be righting themselves. Even if they are not treble contenders this year, the team is stocked with world class talent from front to back. Wesley Snejder, Samuel Eto’o, Cambiasso, Julio Cesar, etc. are all big names in the soccer world, and are good draws. Inter has visited the United States as recently as last year and draws very well. Dream match – Inter Milan versus AC Milan in Baltimore. Bring one of the best derbies in the world to the U.S. city with a rich Italian history.
Juventus: Juve is another large Italian club that has fallen on hard times. But Juventus has traditionally been the face of Italian soccer, supplying the national team with many of its players. Fans would come out to see Gigi Buffon, maybe when healthy the world’s best keeper, as well as Alessandro Del Piero, Alberto Aquilani, and breakout star Milos Krasic. Dream match – Juventus versus Ajax in the New Meadowlands. Replay the 1996 now-Champions League final outside a city with supporters of both clubs.
Real Madrid: Any chance you can see The Special One, you have to take that opportunity. But besides Mr Mourinho, Real Madrid may have the best collection of soccer talent in the world. Even a second or half squad would bring out world-class players but fans could hope to see Ronaldo, Higuain, Xabi Alonso, and Mesut Ozil. Dream match – Real Madrid versus FC Dallas in the Jerry Dome. Miami gets Barcelona this summer, so Dallas gets Real.
Villareal: The big reason to bring Villareal to the United States is Jozy Altidore. If he is the future of the U.S. national team, bring him to the U.S. on a tour or for a friendly so Americans can see him with his club. And Villareal is having a great season, third in the league behind the big two, and they have a ton of talent. One of their top scorers is Giuseppe Rossi, someone American soccer fans may have heard of. Dream match – New York Red Bulls and Villareal in New Meadowlands. Playing the match here allows Rossi and Altidore a chance to play near their hometowns.
Bayern Munich: The Bundesliga pecking order has been upset this year, with traditional clubs like Stuttgart in danger of relegation. However, even though they are sitting just fifth, Bayern is the premier name in Bundesliga outside Germany. Big names from the most recent World Cup like Muller and Schweinsteiger populate the roster, and French fans can come out to see Franck Ribery. Dream match – Bayern visiting Seattle at Qwest Field. Seattle has been skipped in many of these tours and deserve a big-name competition.
TSG Hoffenheim: Many people may not have heard about this club or think it would be a good draw in the United States, but Hoffenheim, a mid-table club, has a great story in Vedad Ibisevic. You can read the entire story in this New York Times article, but in brief Ibisevic’s family fled to the United States to avoid the ethnic warfare in Bosnia. Vedad played for a year with the University of St. Louis before beginning his professional career in Europe. Dream match – Obviously Hoffenheim should play in St. Louis and the probably opponent should be Sporting Kansas City, the closest professional club.