When it comes to soccer, the International Champions Cup takes the crown as the preeminent club soccer game that’s played on U.S. soil every year.
The tournament has become the annual spectacle featuring matches between the world’s biggest clubs. Every summer, the International Champions Cup completely overshadows the MLS All-Star Game. This year, for example, take your pick from last Saturday’s North West Derby between Manchester United-Liverpool played in front of 101,254 fans in Michigan, or Tuesday night’s Real Madrid-Manchester United match attended by 64,141 supporters in Miami.
Speaking of Miami, David Beckham has been trying to launch a MLS team since 2014. In that time, not a single ball has been kicked nor a brick has been laid by MLS. But with the International Champions Cup, Miami has hosted Manchester United-Liverpool (2014), el Clásico Miami between Barcelona-Real Madrid (2017), Bayern Munich-Manchester City (2014) and Real Madrid-Manchester United (2018) — all matches played at the world-class Hard Rock Stadium that’s one of the best venues for soccer in the entire country.
At the end of the day, whether David Beckham is able to get his MLS Miami team off the ground or not is largely insignificant to soccer fans in South Florida. The annual International Champions Cup is ideal for the Miami market, serving up many of the world’s greatest soccer clubs every summer while, for the remainder of the year, South Florida often hosts international friendlies featuring nations such as Colombia, Brazil, Peru or Croatia, all of whom have played here recently.
That abundance of high quality teams satisfies the appetite of the Miami market. While it’d be great to have a MLS club that the city can call its own, there’s no doubt that the quality of football on display would be a turnoff for many of the soccer-savvy fans in the area who have grown up watching the highest level of the game from around the world.
Does Miami need a MLS team? Not necessarily. But MLS certainly needs to be in the city in order to boost TV ratings and offer advertisers and sponsors an opportunity to reach the bi-lingual audience in South Florida.
Currently, the annual schedule of International Champions Cup games is exactly what Miami wants and gets.