Earthquakes

International Champions Cup brings Real Madrid, Machester United to Levi's

International Champions Cup brings Real Madrid, Machester United to Levi's

SAN JOSE -- Relevent Sports, a division of RSE Ventures, announced today that Spanish giants Real Madrid and English powerhouse Manchester United will meet on Sunday, July 23 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. as part of the 2017 International Champions Cup presented by Heineken.

The match will kickoff at 2:00 p.m. PT and be aired on ESPN.

"The Bay Area continues to draw world-class soccer events," said Earthquakes President Dave Kaval. "With major clubs such as Manchester United returning year after year, it is a testament to the passionate fan base and the top-notch facilities we can provide."

Real Madrid and Manchester United are both poised for success in their current campaigns, with recent domestic triumphs extending to their international competitions. With a plethora of multinational superstars, Real Madrid sits atop La Liga with their sights set on adding to their record 32 league titles. Led by FIFA Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo and Welsh phenomenon Gareth Bale, Real Madrid has advanced to the knockout stage of the 2017 Champions League in hopes of retaining their title.

Perennial power Manchester United is led by Zlatan Ibrahimović, the team's top goal-scorer, and English legend Wayne Rooney.

As the home of the 5-time Super Bowl Champion San Francisco 49ers, Levi's Stadium sits near one of America's greatest sports cities. Opened in 2014, Levi's Stadium was chosen as the site of Super Bowl 50 and has already played host to two ICC matches. The stadium has been named Venue of the Year, by The Stadium Business Awards and Sports Facility of the Year by Sports Business Journal while proving to be a leader in stadium technology.

Tickets for the Real Madrid v. Manchester United matchup at Levi's Stadium will go on sale to the general public beginning Tuesday, April 4. Fans can find all venue-specific and other ticket information at www.internationalchampionscup.com.

"Last year we saw a clash of giants when Liverpool defeated AC Milan in front of a sellout crowd here at Levi's Stadium," said Charlie Stillitano, Chairman at Relevent Sports. "The battle between famed English and Spanish clubs continues again this year when Manchester United matches up against reigning Champions League titleholders Real Madrid. Both teams field exceptional rosters full of world-class talent and are managed by two of the best in Mourinho and Zidane. The ICC is thrilled to return for a third consecutive year to Levi's Stadium and the Bay Area where the growth and passion for soccer is unparalleled."

"To have Relevent Sports bring the International Champions Cup back to Levi's Stadium for a third year in-a-row is a real testament to the fans in the Bay Area and their support of international soccer," said 49ers President Al Guido. "In partnership with the Earthquakes, we look forward to Manchester United and Real Madrid kicking off an amazing week of soccer in Santa Clara that will culminate with the finale of the 2017 Gold Cup on July 26."

The 2017 International Champions Cup presented by Heineken will run from July 19 - 30and feature 12 matches played across 11 cities throughout the United States. In total, eight teams from around the globe, including England (Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur), Italy (Juventus, AS Roma), France (Paris Saint-Germain) and Spain (FC Barcelona, Real Madrid) will compete in this year's tournament. Each team will play three contests and the club with the most points at the end of the tournament will be crowned champion. Each win in regulation will result in three points and a tie will go straight to a shootout; the winning team in a shootout will receive two points and the losing team will receive one.

Arguably the most recognizable soccer club in the world, Manchester United is frequently mentioned among the most successful teams in English league soccer and has been home to some of the game's greats including Sir Bobby Charlton, George Best and Denis Law. The club is also incredibly successful off the field, having become the first sports franchise to be valued at over $3 billion, according to Forbes.

The record 20-time league title winners have dominated English soccer for much of the last 25 years. During that time, some of the biggest names in soccer, including David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney, have pulled on the famous red shirt and run out on Old Trafford's hallowed turf. All of the aforementioned names played under the greatest manager soccer has ever known: Sir Alex Ferguson. He took charge of Manchester United in November 1986, before retiring in May 2013 with a record 13 English soccer league titles. The club is currently managed by José Mourinho, who took over the reins in May of 2016. This year's squad features star veteran strikers Wayne Rooney and Zlatan Ibrahimović, along with young superstar midfielder Paul Pogba. For more information on Manchester United, please visit www.manutd.com.

Founded in 1902, Real Madrid hold the record for most European cup/UEFA Champions League championships in any club's history - a staggering total of 11 titles, its most recent arriving in the 2015-2016 season. In addition, the Royal Whites have won a record 32 La Liga titles, while winning the domestic cup 19 times.

Los Blancos currently field a roster featuring some of the best players in the world including Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), Gareth Bale (Wales), Karim Benzema (France) as well as home-grown Spanish talent like Isco and captain Sergio Ramos. Led by former Real Madrid midfielder, French soccer legend and current manager Zinedine Zidane, Real Madrid returns to the International Champions Cup for the fifth consecutive year, having won each of the inaugural tournaments to take place in the United States, Australia and China. For more information on Real Madrid, please visit www.realmadrid.com.

For the second consecutive year, Heineken is the presenting sponsor of the 2017 International Champions Cup. In addition to Heineken, the 2017 tournament features a leading line-up of sponsors, including Visit Orlando, Ally, Nike, Chevrolet, AON, Groupon, VividSeats, Gatorade and Xyience. Additional partners will be announced in the coming months. All matches for the International Champions Cup will be carried on ESPN networks including ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes and streaming network ESPN3, accessible through WatchESPN and the ESPN App.

Fans can follow the ICC on social media at @intchampionscup for exclusive content and announcements, and join the conversation using #2017ICC. Fans can sign up for up news, updates and ticket information at www.internationalchampionscup.com.

Earthquakes media services

Shocker: US Men's National Team eliminated from World Cup contention

usmnt-trinadad-01-ap.jpg

Shocker: US Men's National Team eliminated from World Cup contention

COUVA, Trinidad — Twenty-eight years after one of the United States' most important victories came in stunning fashion at Trinidad to end a four-decade World Cup absence, the Americans' chances for the 2018 tournament in Russia ended on this island nation off the coast of Venezuela.

The U.S. was eliminated from World Cup contention Tuesday night, a shocking 2-1 loss to Trinidad and Tobago ending a run of seven straight American appearances at soccer's showcase.

The Soca Warriors scored a pair of first-half goals, getting one off U.S. defender Omar Gonzalez, and the United States made too many other mistakes to recover. The Americans are out of the World Cup for the first time since 1986.

"We let down an entire nation today," Gonzalez said.

Shocked American players slumped on the bench, and Matt Besler sat on the field after the final whistle as Panama's game ended and then Costa Rica's. At the end, dejected U.S. players filed into their locker rooms with blank looks.

"We foolishly brought Trinidad into the game with the own goal," coach Bruce Arena said. "That was a big goal for Trinidad psychologically. That got them motivated."

The U.S. entered its final qualifier with a berth uncertain for the first time since 1989. Home losses to Mexico last November and Costa Rica left the Americans little margin for error.

The 28th-ranked Americans needed merely a tie against 99th-ranked Trinidad, which lost its sixth straight qualifier last week. But the defeat — coupled with Honduras' come-from-behind 3-2 win over Mexico and Panama's 2-1 victory over Costa Rica on Ramon Torres' 88th-minute goal — dropped the Americans from third place into fifth in the six-nation final round of the North and Central American and Caribbean region.

Mexico and Costa Rica already had clinched berths, and Panama claimed the third and final automatic spot and will go the World Cup for the first time. Honduras will meet Australia in a two-game playoff next month for another spot at next year's 32-nation tournament.

Missing the World Cup is a devastating blow to the U.S. Soccer Federation, which has steadily built the sport in the last quarter-century with the help of sponsors and television partners. It also is a trauma for Fox, which broadcasts the next three World Cups after taking the U.S. rights from ESPN. The USSF hopes to co-host the 2026 tournament with Mexico and Canada, and Morocco is the only other bidder.

After an 0-2 start in the hexagonal last fall under Jurgen Klinsmann, the USSF replaced him last November with Arena, the American coach from 1998-2006. The team revived with home wins over Honduras and Trinidad last spring and draws at Panama and Mexico. But the 2-0 defeat to Costa Rica in New Jersey at the start of Labor Day weekend proved one hurdle too many to overcome.

The Americans fell behind in the 17th minute when Gonzalez made a casual attempt with his left foot to clear Alvin Jones' cross and sent the ball looping over the outstretched right arm of goalkeeper Tim Howard from 18 yards.

Jones doubled the lead in the 37th with a 35-yard strike, again to Howard's upper right corner, and nearly scored another in the 44th when his swerving shot bounced off Howard's chest and spilled into the penalty area.

Christian Pulisic, the Americans' 19-year-old star midfielder, scored in the 47th minute from the arc with a right-footed shot. He played a role in 12 of the 17 American goals in the hexagonal.

One minute later, Howard made a kick save on Shahdon Winchester's short-range shot, and DeAndre Yedlin blocked Levi Garcia's follow-up attempt.

The U.S. bench was tense, as Honduras scored twice early in the second half to take the lead over visiting Mexico in the 60th minute and Panama tied the score against visiting Costa Rica in the 52nd.

Clint Dempsey, who entered at the start of the second half, was denied by goalkeeper Adrian Foncette's leaping save in the 69th and hit a post from 22 yards in the 77th. Pulisic's shot in the 87th was saved by Foncette.

All American reserves were standing for much of the final minutes, and Arena had repeated exasperated looks.

"No excuses for us not getting the second goal and at least a point," Arena said. "It's a blemish for us."

Just a few hundred fans were in the stands at 10,000-capacity Ato Boldon Stadium, located 24 miles south of the capital, Port-of-Spain. Paul Caligiuri's famous goal at the National Stadium in 1989 put the U.S. in the World Cup for the first time since 1950.

Among the spectators were a few dozen American Outlaws, the U.S. supporters group.

Water that had flooded the track surrounding the field ahead of the U.S. training session Monday was gone.

USMNT back on track with 4-0 pounding of Panama

pulisic.jpg
AP

USMNT back on track with 4-0 pounding of Panama

ORLANDO, Fla. — Teenage star Christian Pulisic scored with a brilliant touch to complete a field-length attack just eight minutes in, then split the defense with a pass that set up Jozy Altidore for the first of the forward's two goals and put the United States back on track for next year's World Cup with a 4-0 rout of Panama on Friday night.

Pulisic fed Altidore for a 2-0 lead in the 19th. Altidore converted a penalty kick with a chip in the 43rd after Bobby Wood was fouled, and Wood added a goal in the 63rd.

The U.S. ended a three-match winless streak in qualifying and with 12 points and moved two points ahead of Panama into third place — the last automatic berth — in the North and Central American and Caribbean region. Honduras has nine points going into its match Saturday at Costa Rica, which is second with 15.

Goal difference means the Americans put themselves in great shape to reach an eighth straight World Cup, almost certainly with a win Tuesday at Trinidad and Tobago and likely with a draw if Honduras fails to win Saturday. The U.S. is plus-five to minus-two for Panama and minus-seven for Honduras.

The region's fourth-place team advances to a playoff next month against Australia or Syria.

"We could have finished better on the day and scored more goals," U.S. coach Bruce Arena said.

Playing his first international match since he turned 19 last month, Pulisic was moved to central midfield from the flanks by coach Bruce Arena and sparked the attack from the opening whistle with pace and ball control seldom seen from Americans.

After Gabriel Gomez broke free from Omar Gonzalez and shot over the crossbar, Tim Howard's goal kick was headed forward by Bobby Wood about 10 yards past midfield.

Altidore one-timed the ball ahead to on a sprinting Pulisic, and the midfielder reached back with his left leg to flick the ball ahead. Pulisic jumped to avoid Roman Torres' challenge and used the outside of his right foot to play the ball forward. As goalkeeper Jaime Penedo came off his line, Pulisic used the outside of his right foot again to play the ball wide and jumped over Pinedo's outstretched arm. At the edge of the 6-yard box and just 2 yards from the endline, Pulisic reached with his right foot to slot the ball in, completing a 112-yard U.S. move. Pulisic tumbled over as the ball rolled in for his eighth goal in 19 international appearances, his fourth in the hex.

Pulisic created the second goal when he played the ball between his feet and faked Michael Murillo on the left flank Pulisic broke ahead and fed Altidore, who split the center backs and redirected the ball in from 5 yards for his first goal of the hexagonal. At that point, Pulisic had played a part in 11 of the Americans' 14 goals in the hex.

After Wood and Altidore failed to convert good chances, Wood drew the penalty kick when he exchanged passes with Paul Arriola along a flank, broke past Felipe Baloy, spurted diagonally into the penalty area and was pushed down by Armando Cooper. As Pinedo dived to his left, Altidore chipped the ball down the center for his 41st international game.

Hacked down several times by Panamanians, Pulisic was removed in the 57th minute and walked out to a standing ovation from the sellout crowd of 25,303 at Orlando City Stadium, which opened in February,

Wood added his 10th international goal off a pass from Arriola.

Panama was trying to move into position to qualify for its first World Cup. The Panamanians were 90 seconds from advancing to a playoff against New Zealand four years ago, when Graham Zusi and Aron Johannsson scored late goals at Honduras, which dropped Panama behind Mexico and into fifth place.