USA/CANADA Pre-season seemingly confirmed? Apparenty we're a 'Talented club'
It seems as though the rumors are true. A day after writing my initial article the three clubs have seemingly announced matches versus sunderland at their ground on the following dates:
Vancouver: July 16th
Seattle: July 20th
Portland: July 23rd
WHITECAPS ANNOUNCE EXHIBITION FRIENDLY VERSUS SUNDERLAND AFC
... Caps will host Sunderland AFC of the English Championship League
VANCOUVER , BC – The Vancouver Whitecaps FC in conjunction with the BC Soccer Association today announced the Whitecaps will play Sunderland AFC of the English Championship League on Saturday, July 16th at Swangard Stadium. Sunderland will embark on a three game west coast tour which will also include matches in Seattle and Portland.
“This is an incredible opportunity to bring a feature English club with a storied history to Vancouver,” said Bob Lenarduzzi, Director of Soccer Operations. “It will allow our players a chance to receive some valuable experience, and our fans to see some top international stars.”
Founded in 1879, Sunderland is one of England ’s most supported franchises. Their incredible history includes eight English First Division Championships and two FA Cups. Currently the Black Cats are in third place in the Championship League with an 18-6-9 record (60 points). The top two clubs qualify for a place in Premiership for the subsequent season, while teams’ three to six go into a playoff to determine the last spot.
Sunderland ’s roster is highlighted by 21-year-old Irish scoring sensation, Stephen Elliott and veteran English striker, Marcus Stewart. In his first season in the Championship League Elliott has already amassed 13 goals, currently tied for twelfth in the league. Stewart has chipped in with 12 goals, which includes a recent hat-trick in Sunderland’s 4-2 victory over Watford on February 12th.
Following Sunderland’s match in Vancouver, the Black Cats head south to Seattle to play the Seattle Sounders on July 20th at Qwest Field. The final leg of the tour will see the English side take on the Portland Timbers on July 23rd at PGE Park.
Tickets for the July 16th match at Swangard Stadium are included in all Whitecaps full-season, half-season, and five-game ticket packages. Single game tickets will be available in early April. Whitecaps season tickets start at less than $6 per game. For more information please call 604.669.WAVE (9283) or visit us on the web at whitecapsfc.com.
The Seattle Sounders Professional Soccer Club will play English League Championship Club, Sunderland AFC, in an exhibition match on July 20th at Qwest Field, it was announced today. The match kicks off at 7 pm (PT).
Sunderland AFC is currently in third position in the English League Championship, Coca-Cola 1st Division. The top three finishers in the division are promoted to the English Premier League (EPL) which features internationally recognized franchises such as, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United.
The Sounder connection to Sunderland dates back 25 years to defender Shawn Elliott. Elliott played for the Sounders in 1980 on a trip over from Sunderland. He made over 350 international appearances and 11 goals in his European career. He was the anchor of Sunderland’s defense that was undefeated at home in 1979-80. Elliott signed with the Sounders in January of 1979 and made 23 appearances with the team.
Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer: “We certainly look forward to playing Sunderland. It will be a great test for our guys and it will also give the people of Seattle a great chance to experience top quality English soccer.”
Sunderland Manager Mick McCarthy (pictured): "We traveled to the USA for pre-season last year and it was great preparation for the season. The warm weather is perfect for training and the different environment is good for everyone.
“We’re really looking forward to visiting the three clubs and I’m sure they’ll give us a good work out in preparation for the new season.”
Tickets for the match cost $12 for general admission or $17 for reserved seating. Individual tickets go on sale to the public March 15th through Ticketmaster – (206) 628.0888.
Current Sounder season ticket holders have until March 15th to purchase their existing seats for the Sunderland match.
Group tickets (15 or more) may be purchased by calling the Sounders box office – 206 622.3415 extension 122. Fans purchasing a group of 15 or more tickets for the Sunderland match will receive the equivalent number of tickets, free of charge, for the next Sounders match on July 27th against the Toronto Lynx.
In addition to regular seating, a limited number of $50 VIP tickets will be available (on-sale March 15th). The VIP ticket will include a reserved seat to the match, (season ticket holders who purchase VIP tickets will be seated in their current seats) a 30 minute meet and greet with Sunderland players and managers prior to game-time, on-field credentials to watch warm-ups, and a soccer souvenir.
Special ticket offers beginning February 21, 2005: purchase or renew Sounder season tickets (general admission or reserved) and receive the equivalent number of Sunderland tickets free of charge – Four season tickets = four Sunderland tickets.
Purchase or renew a minimum of two flex packs (general admission or reserved) and receive one Sunderland ticket free of charge – Two flex packages = one Sunderland ticket.
In addition to the match in Seattle, Sunderland AFC will play two other pre-season matches in Vancouver, B.C., against the Vancouver Whitecaps, and in Portland, OR against the Timbers.
For more information about the Sunderland match or about the Sounders 2005 season which opens on April 30th, visit www.seattlesounders.net or call (206) 622-3415.
TIMBERS INTENSIFY SCHEDULE WITH L.A. GALAXY, SUNDERLAND MATCHES
Portland plays host to perennial MLS contender, talented English club at PGE Park
PORTLAND, Ore. - The Portland Timbers have bolstered their 2005 schedule with a pair of significant exhibition matches announced today. The Timbers will play host to the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer on Wednesday, April 13, and Sunderland AFC of the English League Championship on Saturday, July 23.
Both matches will be played at PGE Park at 7 p.m.
"Our success both on and off the pitch, particularly last season, has put us in an excellent position to grow our business,” said Timbers general manager Jim Taylor. “Adding both Sunderland of England and the L.A. Galaxy of MLS to our schedule speaks volumes about the growth of the Portland Timbers. It's shaping up to be a most exciting season."
Tickets for both exhibition matches go on sale on Tuesday, March 1, and will be available for purchase at area Ticketmaster outlets, by phone at (503) 224-4400 or online at www.ticketmaster.com.
Additionally, both the Sunderland and Galaxy matches are included in a special five-game ticket plan that is currently available by calling the Timbers’ ticket office at (503) 553-5555.
Sunderland, a club steeped in tradition with its history dating back to 1879, is one of the top teams in the English League Championship, the second division of professional soccer in England, a country known throughout the world for its top level of play.
Winners of the 2002 MLS Cup, the Galaxy have made four appearances in the league’s title game in nine seasons and mark their second trip to PGE Park in Portland. The April 13 match also features the return of former Timbers forward Alan Gordon, the reigning A-League (now USL First Division) Rookie of the Year who signed with Los Angeles during the off-season after being loaned to the MLS club in September 2004.
“What a wonderful opportunity for our supporters to observe soccer at the highest level and for our players to compete against some of the best players in the United States and England,” Timbers head coach Bobby Howe said. “This is great news for the city and for the Portland Timbers. The Galaxy is one of the most successful teams in MLS and Sunderland is well placed to clinch promotion to the English Premiership.”
Known as the Black Cats, Sunderland is currently in third place in its bid for promotion to English Premiership, a league filled with many of the world’s elite players and teams, including Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea. The top two clubs from the English League Championship at season’s end will make the jump, with a third club earning a bid through a playoff between teams three through six in the standings.
The Sunderland match coincides with the 30th anniversary of the Timbers, who regularly faced off against top teams from England as a member of the North American Soccer League, 1975-82.
Sunderland’s trip to PGE Park is the final stop of a three-city North American tour that also includes matches against the Vancouver Whitecaps and Seattle Sounders.
The Galaxy match will give Portland soccer fans a chance to see MLS and international stars in Chris Albright, Cobi Jones, Jovan Kirovski, Carlos Ruiz, along with emerging talents in Joseph Ngwenya, Ned Grabavoy and Gordon.
A fan favorite at PGE Park and a former standout at Oregon State, Gordon amassed 17 goals with the Timbers in 2004 to garner all-league honors while leading Portland to an 18-7-3 record, the top mark in the A-League during the regular season.
Gordon won’t be the only player facing his former team, as Portland defender Scot Thompson spent two seasons with the Galaxy before being loaned to Portland in 2004. Thompson signed a two-year deal with the Timbers last month.
"We look forward to traveling to Portland to play against the Timbers," said Doug Hamilton, president and general manager of the Galaxy. "Our organizations have always enjoyed a great relationship, which can only be bettered by meeting one another on the field."
The two clubs have met once before, with the Timbers defeating the Galaxy 2-1 in a preseason exhibition at PGE Park on April 9, 2002. Since their return in 2001, the Timbers are 2-1 against MLS teams.
Both matches are included in an expanded season-ticket plan that features all 17 home games for 2005. These plans and several other convenient ticket packages are currently available by calling at (503) 553-5555.