Manchester City's Vincent Kompany prepares to kick the ball as Chelsea's Oscar challenges during the first half of their friendly soccer match at Yankee Stadium in New York

International Champions Cup dates set; more high-level summer soccer in the States


Can we be excited about the next roster of fine teams coming through for the Guinness International Champions Cup and have a little go at the tournament, too?

Of course we can!

More details are out today on the second edition of this tournament. And there are some great names, including Manchester United, Manchester City, Real Madrid and Liverpool.

Roma, Inter Milan and AC Milan from Italy, plus Greece’s Olympiakos round out this little slice of summer soccer awesome. It plays out over 13 U.S. cities from July 26 to Aug. 4.

The quibble is here:

Today’s release (linked above) from Fox Soccer, the tournament’s broadcast partner, calls it a “fiercely contested eight team soccer extravaganza.”

This is a terrific event, one that allows domestic fans to get up-close looks at some of the world’s top stars. But it is what it is: exhibition soccer. (Which, by the way, will not include some of the real A-listers, as they’ll be on break following World Cup play … but details, details.)

But “fiercely contested?” Come on!

Priorities here for these clubs, roughly in this order, are: Don’t get hurt. Make money. Don’t get hurt. Make lots of money. Get some touches and generate some fitness for the coming season. Experiment with lineups and combos. Don’t get hurt. Shop. Don’t get hurt.

The final (between group winners) is at Sun Life Stadium, Miami, Florida.

 Group A

  • Real Madrid
  • Inter Milan
  • Manchester United
  • AS Roma

Group B:

  • Olympiacos
  • Manchester City
  • AC Milan
  • Liverpool


July 24: Olympiacos v. AC Milan, site TBD

July 26: Real Madrid CF vs. Inter Milan at University of Phoenix Stadium, Phoenix

July 26: Manchester United vs. AS Roma, Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver

July 27: AC Milan v. Manchester City, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh

July 27: Liverpool FC vs. Olympiacos, Soldier Field, Chicago

July 29: Manchester United vs. Inter Milan, FedEx Field, Washington D.C.

July 29: Real Madrid CF vs. AS Roma,  Cotton Bowl, Dallas

July 30: Manchester City vs. Liverpool FC, Yankee Stadium, New York

Aug. 2: Inter Milan vs. AS Roma, Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia

Aug. 2: Real Madrid CF vs. Manchester United – TBD

Aug. 2: Olympiacos vs. Manchester City, TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis

Aug. 2: AC Milan vs. Liverpool FC, Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?

Olivier Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott

Olivier Giroud, France
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Is it just me, or does the press really only ever get noteworthy quotes from players during international breaks?

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

I suppose it’s not surprising, given Premier League players get away from the mean ole British press, go back to their respective homelands and speak with journalists they’ve likely known since their early playing days, thus feel more comfortable opening up about key issues.

Anyway, today we have Olivier Giroud essentially calling himself out for having lost the starting striker’s job at Arsenal because he’s been outplayed of late by Theo Walcott. As discussed before, this is bad news for Giroud because he’s now falling down the depth chart for France with next summer’s European Championship on the horizon.

[ MORE: Aguero admits he wants Guardiola link-up ]

Giroud, on losing his place at Arsenal — quotes from the Guardian:

“At Arsenal, I am in competition with Theo for the striker position. But he is doing well at the moment, so there is no reason to change.

“Whether it was at Tours, Montpellier or Arsenal, I have never experienced a situation like this, I have often played from the start. I need to take positives and to harden myself mentally. It is something new for me.

“I was in [Walcott’s] place in previous seasons at Arsenal. I imagine what he must have been thinking. But I feel that the coach believes in me.”

Giroud goes on to cast into doubt his own confidence, stating in very certain terms he needs “to believe more in [his] abilities.” Giroud’s always come across as a bit of an existentialist, but it’s always strange to hear players publicly call themselves out — particularly their confidence — as if that’s not going to increase the pressure currently weighing down on them.

[ MORE: Rodgers reportedly chosen to take over at Aston Villa ]

The next eight months are going to be monumentally important in Giroud’s career, as the 29-year-old attempts to prove he’s worth keeping around at Arsenal and deserving of a place in the national team squad for next summer’s EUROs, which are to be played in France.