Multiple sources are announcing that La Liga powerhouse Valencia will be the latest European club team to travel the United States to play MLS teams during the Summer. While lacking some of the cache of Real Madrid and Barcelona, Valencia is a quality side that will draw significant interest from fans in Philly and potentially DC where the team is set to play.
These matches are part of the summer ritual in MLS. These teams criss-cross the United States preparing for their season by playing MLS sides and each other. Last year, AC Milan, Real Madrid, Chelsea and Everton were among the European powers crossing the pond to participate in an American Summer. Not surprisingly, these games are not all about soccer. The European teams are desperate to spread their brand to an American audience in an effort to collect fans and sell jerseys on these fertile shores.
At the same time, MLS teams can generate a large pay day by selling seats to see the foreign teams play (and these European teams don’t come for free). MLS squads view these games as an invaluable oportunity to showcase their talents (and very existence) to soccer fans in the States who typically ignore MLS. Some teams believe so strongly in these opportunities, that they readily shift MLS regular season matches to accomodate the games. Recall that the Galaxy made the AC Milan friendly an important part of their Beckham negotations. Interestingly, some teams readily participate in these matches (Seattle, Los Angeles), while others show no interest (the Revs have vehemently denied that Valencia will be stopping in Foxboro).
Overall, we think that these games are great for MLS. Every time that a fan of a team like Valencia, Barcelona or Chelsea enjoys their experience at an MLS game, is an opportunity to create a fan who comes back to see the players for their local side. Moreover, these events typically generate substantial revenue for the MLS Sides. The touring season starts this weekend in Harrison with Santos