Union in negotiations to host Real Madrid
The rumors you have heard are true: the Philadelphia Union are in negotiations to host Real Madrid this summer at Lincoln Financial Field as part of the MLS-sponsored World Football Challenge.
You may have heard some rumors about this, and they are true: the Philadelphia Union are in negotiations to host Real Madrid this summer at Lincoln Financial Field as part of the MLS-sponsored World Football Challenge.
The deal is not done yet, because there are a few major logistical hurdles that need to be cleared. As of now, though, here's what I know.
The projected date for the game is Saturday, July 23. The game would be the last of three matches for Real Madrid on a week-long tour of the United States.
One of those games has already been announced: against the Los Angeles Galaxy at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Saturday, July 16. The second match, according to the Washington Post's Steven Goff, is against Chivas de Guadalajara in San Diego on Wednesday, July 20.
Goff wrote last Friday that "the last stop is likely to be in Philadelphia." I've been told that at one point, Real Madrid's game here was going to be against another Mexican team, Club América, but that discussions now have the Union as the opponent.
If the game is agreed to, the Union would have to reschedule their game at Seattle that is currently set for the 23rd. It's my understanding that this is one of the things holding up the negotiations for the Real Madrid game.
The Union only have one open Saturday left until the end of the regular season: Saturday, October 8. But that is a FIFA international matchday, and MLS had not scheduled any games on those dates for that reason.
There is precendent for moving a league game to a FIFA matchday: the Union's game at Real Salt Lake was changed to September 3 to accomodate RSL's participation in the CONCACAF Champions League final.
But just because the Sounders' schedule is clear doesn't mean their home venue is. A college football game has been scheduled for October 8 at Qwest Field, and that will have to be dealt with too.
Central Washington University, a Division II school located in Ellensburg, Washington - about 95 miles from Seattle - is scheduled to play Western Oregon University in Seattle on the 8th.
That game is a traditional rivalry game, and has been played regularly in Seattle over the years. It has been at Qwest Field in each of the last two seasons, with an average attendance of around 5,300 fans.
Given that crowd size, perhaps the college football game could be moved across town to the 12,000-seat Memorial Stadium. It would be a humorous twist in the plot, as Memorial Stadium hosted many Sounders games back in the North American Soccer League era.
If the football game can't be moved, either in terms of date or venue, then the Union-Sounders game would have to be rescheduled to a midweek date. That would require a cross-country trip between Saturday games.
So again, the deal is not done yet. But I'm told that the deal is pretty likely to be completed, and a formal announcement could come later this week. So stay tuned.