Several NASL teams will spend their summer offseason month between the spring and fall campaigns by hosting an International Friendly mini-season as several competitive Latin American clubs visit the United States next month.
The mini-season kicks off two days after the conclusion of the NASL Spring Championship when current league-leader Carolina RailHawks welcomes two-time Mexican First Division (Liga-MX) champion Puebla FC at the WakeMed Soccer Park.
The encounter marks the second time a Mexican team visits the Triangle as earlier this year Pumas UNAM topped the RailHawks 2-1 in front of a record crowd of 8,054.
“Puebla is a two-time Mexican Champion and former CONCACAF Champion,” said RailHawks President Curt Johnson. “It will be another strong test for the RailHawks and we look forward to competing against them on July 6."
Also on July 6, the San Antonio Scorpions will greet the three-time Liga-MX champion Tigres UANL at Toyota Field.
Tigres, who are making their first appearance in San Antonio, are the former club of Scorpions’ midfielder Javier Saavedra, who played for them from 1998 to 2010.
“This match will be a great day for our Scorpions player, Javier Saavedra to lead us against his old club where he played 300 games,” said Scorpions Head Coach Tim Hankinson. “It will be a bigger day for the San Antonio community to cheer for their Scorpions team and their Tigres team at Toyota Field.”
Fourteen day later on July 20, a second Mexican side visits Toyota Field when Club Social y Deportivo Dorados de Sinaloa (Dorados) faces the Scorpions.
The last-time the Scorpions took on Dorados was in Stockton, California on March 14, 2012 when forward Hans Denissen scored twice to lead San Antonio to a 3-0 victory.
Scorpions President and General Manager Howard Cornfield said. "We are dedicated to bringing in exciting teams to Toyota Field for our fans and I think this will be a good test for us against another good Mexican team, and our fans will enjoy this matchup."
On July 27, the Atlanta Silverbacks will host their first international game since 2011 when they meet the five-time Guatemalan champion CSD Xelaju MC as part of the ‘Reto Cup’ at Atlanta Silverbacks Park.
“We’re excited to welcome a championship-caliber opponent to Atlanta for a special international friendly,” said Silverbacks General Manager Andy Smith. “It should be a great spectacle for our fans, and a great test for our team before the NASL Fall Season begins.”
The NASL international friendlies actually commenced last week with when the Fort Lauderdale Strikers hosted the two-time Brazilian league champion Cruzeiro Esporte Clube at Lockhart Stadium which was broadcast live nationally on Univision Deportes Network and in Brazil on SportTV (a division of Globo).
Despite the 4-0 lost to the historic Brazilian side, the Strikers drew a season-high 5,724 fans for the match.
“For us, it’s a great experience to play against a world-renowned club like Cruzeiro and for our Brazilian players to play against guys who they watched growing up,” said Strikers coach Daryl Shore before the match. “Any chance you get to play an international friendly is always special and lets us show not only our talent, but our league’s talent and prove the NASL is a league to be reckoned with.”
This is also the first time since 1985 that NASL teams play four or more international matches at home during a six-week span.
The New York Cosmos will take their preseason preparations on the road with games in London against Leyton Orient of League One on July 24 and then Championship side Watford three days later. Watford narrowly missed out on promotion to the Premier League last season, losing the playoff final.
"I'm looking forward to taking our squad to the UK," said Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese.
"The chance to train and play in a different environment and face Orient will benefit our team and our pre-season preparations."
More international matches will be announced in due course as the NASL teams prepare for the upcoming 2013 Fall Season.
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