Saturday, July 6 will see the stars of the soccer world from all around the globe invade Chicago in support of Lionel Messi’s foundation.
The 4-time Ballon d’Or winner himself will headline the event, with a star-studded cast alongside him in the Lionel Messi and Friends charity tour.
With the first two stops in Columbia and Peru, the match at Chicago’s Soldier Field will be the third of four matches across the Americas which will benefit the Leo Messi Foundation for at-risk children.
Playing in the Chicago event aside from Messi himself are players from around the world including fellow Argentine Sergio Aguero, rumor-heavy Edinson Cavani and Robert Lewandowski, New York Red Bulls’ Thierry Henry, Chelsea’s David Luiz and Florent Malouda, and Messi’s Barcelona teammates Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, and Cesc Fabregas.
American internationals Carlos Bocanegra and Michael Bradley will also take part in the event.
Bocanegra has a decent following in Chicago from his days with the Fire, partly under Bradley’s father Bob Bradley. Michael Bradley played his early youth days with the now-defunct Chicago Sockers.
Then the fanfare will pick up and relocate to Los Angeles‘s Memorial Coliseum a week later, with some players like Aguero, Fabregas, Busquets, Lewandowski, Giovani dos Santos, and Marek Hamsik reprising their role. New faces will join them as well, including Gerard Pique, Alex Song, Javier Mascherano, Robinho, Kevin Prince-Boateng, and James Rodriguez.
The matches will be organized by Numero 5 LLC. Its vice-president, Sergio Codino, did his best to play up the event to its American audience by saying, “The Messi and Friends friendly, much like the NFL Pro Bowl or the MLB All-Star Game, will provide fans with an incredible opportunity to witness the world’s greatest athletes from the world of soccer together on the field of competition before the FIFA World Cup in Brazil in 2014.”
Last year Messi held a similar event, a snoozefest in Miami that finished at 7-7 in front of 50,000 clearly bored fans. Messi and Luis Suarez walked out with hat-tricks.