Cristiano Ronaldo will get a chance to taste a cheesesteak this summer.
As will Jose "The Special One" Mourinho.
Because an announcement scheduled for this morning will confirm that the Union will host Real Madrid.
Mourinho, Real's coach, and his star-studded cast will play the Union at Lincoln Financial Field on July 23 as part of the World Football Challenge, a schedule of summer exhibition matches between South American, European and Major League Soccer clubs that will run from July 13 to Aug. 6.
On Tuesday, a source close to negotiations told the Daily News that scheduling issues and the Union's desire to play the Spanish Cup champions' first team and not a group of reserves delayed an announcement. The Union had a prior MLS engagement against Seattle at Qwest Field on the same date, but that game was rescheduled to the last remaining FIFA open date, Oct. 8. Further complicating the rescheduled date was that Qwest Field was scheduled to host an NCAA Division II college football game between Eastern Washington and Western Oregon.
Yesterday, Union CEO and managing partner Nick Sakiewicz confirmed that everything has been ironed out. He praised all who aided in getting this deal finalized.
"There were a lot of complications with moving the dates from July 23 to Oct. 8, as there were prior engagements at Qwest Field," Sakiewicz said. "But they stepped up and were able to move it, which is a tremendous help to us. We also would like to recognize the Eagles organization, who were, in their own right, tremendous with being gracious and allowing us to use their fantastic facility."
Union fans can expect Real's top players to make the trip, as Sakiewicz noted that many of the stars are "contractually obligated" to appear. Real's South American players will be in the midst of the Copa America tournament, but Sakiewicz said Brazilian stars Kaka and Pepe and Argentine forward Angel di Maria will be in the house.
This will be the third WFC game for Real Madrid, which will face the Galaxy on July 16 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and CD Guadalajara on July 20 in San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium.
The friendly will be the second in 4 days for the Union, which hosts English Premier League club Everton FC at PPL Park on July 20 at 7:30 p.m.
"A lot of it is timing," said Sakiewicz, who noted that Real had been looking for a host on the East Coast.
Originally, Real was scheduled to play Mexican side Club America on the same date at the Linc, but that game was scratched, presumably as talks with the Union intensified.
"Real is a storied team, so is Everton, so is Manchester United [which beat the Union, 1-0, at the Linc last season]. It's an honor to play these teams, and we will always look to bring these caliber clubs to the region."
"There is a misperception out there that [American] football is inferior; much of this comes from people who have never even seen us play. Bringing these teams in is our chance to not only show that our guys can hang, but that football in this country is evolving and can compete with many of the great teams on the world stage." *