On Tuesday MLS and sports event group CAA announced that the World Football Challenge would be back this summer bringing teams from Europe stateside to play against MLS teams July 18th to August 11th.
It's no surprise the tournament is back, it has grown from humble beginnings in 2009 when just four teams played each other into a nationwide event in 2011 with thirteen teams from seven different countries. Last year's event was well attended with only the San Francisco and Toronto dates being duds.
The 2012 version of the tournament appears to consist entirely of Major League Soccer (MLS) versus English Premier League (EPL) match-ups. There will be no foreign teams outside of the EPL included in the tournament, and the EPL teams will not play head-to-head. The idea is to play these matches in the home cities of the respective MLS teams, however, there is a chance MLS might ship a game or two to potential MLS expansion cities or sites (i.e. Manhattan/Queens, Miami, Orlando).
We already know of two matches in the tournament:
July 18 - Seattle, WA - Seattle Sounders v Chelsea
July 21 - Toronto, ON - Toronto FC v Liverpool
As for other teams, it would appear that all of the matches we have highlighted as of today on our "2012 US Summer Friendlies" tab on our homepage are not part of the WFC. There is a chance that some of those matches, such as Tottenham against NY Red Bulls and LA Galaxy could get rolled into the WFC, but I don't think that will be the case. Of the current "big three" EPL teams with tour plans listed, Liverpool, Chelsea, and Tottenham all already have three matches scheduled. I fully expect Tottenham to add a match as part of the WFC as they are already here and don't currently have a match in the tourney. Manchester City and Arsenal are both planning Asia tours with dates in Beijing and Kuala Lumpur already announced, but they each could do one date as part of the WFC as well. Manchester United has also been rumored to be going to Asia, but they have no dates announced as of yet. Bolton and Newcastle were both in the US last summer and both have plans to return, so put them down for a match in the WFC each. Aston Villa will be in the US as well and already have three dates announced, so a forth would be within reason. Besides that, we haven't heard of any other EPL teams with potential US Summer tour plans at this point.
As for locations, you can almost guarantee that Gillette Stadium, Lincoln Financial Field, Cowboy Stadium, and the Home Depot center will all earn dates as they have been successful hosts for the previous years of the WFC. You would have to assume that Florida would earn a date based on attendance in Miami last year for the Barca v Guadalajara match breaking 70,000. Because this is a MLS v EPL setup this year, that would mean a MLS team would have to travel if their is going to be a date in the southeast. The likely choice would be Columbus as they don't have a large (football) facility to play host to a match at home.
Honestly, I see the EPL-only v MLS option a bit limiting as there are plenty of other big name matches (Liverpool v Tottenham, Chelsea v AC Milan) already announced that would be huge draws. Maybe some of Aston Villas and Tottenhams MLS matches will get rolled into the tourney, maybe teams from Spain and Italy will be added like in years past. All we know is that even with the Olympics and Euro 2012 going on, this summer is shaping up to be a great chance to see some great teams stateside.
We will post the latest information on summer tour dates on our website, but you can also follow the World Football Challenge through the MLS provided site.