Sunderland AFC has announced plans for a summer tour of the USA and Canada ahead of the 2015/16 Barclays Premier League season.
After leading The Black Cats to Premier League safety last season, Dutch manager Dick Advocaat will lead his team across the Atlantic for three friendly fixtures. The club will start in San Francisco and play two fixtures in northern California. The first will take place against Sacramento Republic FC at Bonney Field on Tuesday July 14, whilst the second will see Mexican Primera side Club de Futbol Pachuca travel to Bonney Field to face the Premier League outfit on Friday July 17.
The club then travels to Toronto to play MLS side Toronto FC on Wednesday July 22. The fixture is of interest to many as it will mark the returns of Jozy Altidore and Jermain Defoe to their former clubs. Altidore, the USMNT striker, failed to make an impact as a Premier League player at Sunderland in a disappointing 18 month stay in the North East before heading back to MLS to find scoring form. Traveling the other way, Jermain Defoe had a disappointing exit at Toronto FC, netting 11 goals in his brief stay with the club.
Speaking of the tour, Sunderland sporting director Lee Congerton said: “The trip will afford us the opportunity to face quality opposition as we prepare for the season ahead. The facilities for training are great and the games step up over the tour in terms of intensity and this will help us build our fitness and sharpness levels, which is the main aim of pre-season.”
Gary Hutchinson, the club’s commercial director said: “There is a growing interest in football throughout North America. The Barclays Premier League in particular is increasing significantly in popularity, with every game shown live on TV throughout the season. This tour will afford us a fantastic opportunity to introduce Sunderland to an important overseas audience and connect with our existing supporter groups in the territory, which is a key growth area for our club.”
Fans who wish to attend the games in the summer tour can purchase tickets from any of the three clubs’ online ticketing websites, as Sunderland will not be selling any themselves.