LA Galaxy, the New York Red Bulls, and the San Jose Earthquakes will be the three MLS participants in the 2015 International Champions Cup, which will feature teams like Manchester United, Barcelona, and other traditional European powerhouses, as well as Club America. Every match of the tournament will be broadcast live on Fox, Fox Sports 1, and Fox Sports 2.
The tournament will run from July 11 to August 5, during which time those European and Mexican teams will be in preseason.
The MLS teams will be in the middle of their regular season with the added burden of this being a Gold Cup and U20 World Cup year, meaning that international call ups will stretch rosters thin.
You may have noticed that the date range of the tournament just so happens to overlap with both of those other, very significant events.
LA Galaxy are the only MLS team to be making their second appearance in the tournament, which essentially equates to a series of preseason friendlies for foreign clubs. LA were fairly successful, beating Juventus 3-1, but were also beaten during another Summer friendly 7-0 by Manchester United. So it's a mixed bag.
The one thing that can't be argued about these friendlies/tournaments/what-have-you is that they draw a crowd, they affirm the presence of a serious American interest in soccer, and they piss off people like Dan Shaughnessy.
Just last year, 84,362 people showed up at the Rose Bowl to watch a star-studded Manchester United beat down a depleted LA Galaxy squad. When two European behemoths were involved, attendance records were broken. Manchester United played Real Madrid in front of 109,318 fans at the Big House in Michigan.
Needless to say, tournaments like these bring in the money. That's pretty much all they're good for, though. They don't mean anything on a larger scale for the European teams and they distract MLS teams from their season objectives, but they put cash in the hands of everyone involved. The fact that two more MLS teams want in on this Summer's tournament seems to be proof of that.
So it's a cash grab. Fine. But It's a very good cash grab that tricks Eurosnobs (yeah, I said it.) into giving MLS teams money, and that's a very good thing.
People in the twittersphere and everywhere else love to talk about things like this when they happen. The prevailing opinion is that it's a lose-lose situation for MLS teams because a win for them comes against a B-squad in preseason form and a loss just affirms their inferiority. Another opinion is that the MLS teams take these tournaments even less seriously than their European counterparts due to their season objectives, and so the product on the field ends up being a mediocre showing from both teams, which pretty much just confirms the whole cash grab thing.
I'm going to be watching this tournament anyway, and so are all of your friends. No matter what, it's a really cool thing to see MLS teams square off against giants. So when LA thumps Juventus or Osvaldo Alonso hits a 35-yard binger against Tottenham, it feels good.
What's your take on these mid-season MLS friendlies? What do they say about the league? Are they generally positive or negative? Sound off in the comments.