Int'l Champions Cup Continues Growth With Top Teams Featured
The Int'l Champions Cup begins Friday night with Manchester City-Dortmund at Soldier Field, and the tourney is "stacked with virtually every major European club team you can think of," according to Martin Rogers of USA TODAY. There was a "time when preseason tours featuring big European clubs had dismal reputations." The teams were "only coming for sunshine and relaxation," but that narrative is "no longer" the case. No one is "pretending that the ICC is an event on the scale of the Champions League and it doesn’t aspire to be," but the "story has shifted." As for the ICC, the "change came about when leading European coaches -- one of them in particular" (Manchester United's Jose Mourinho) -- started "making the preseason a priority." The games "promise to be competitive in both spirit and execution, and generally feature strong squads with some promising emerging players mixed in." The tournament "contributes to making watching soccer a year-round experience." There were "merely four empty days between the World Cup final" and Friday's opener. By the "time the ICC’s American program ends, there will be little more than 48 hours until the EPL campaign kicks off" on Aug. 10 (USA TODAY, 7/20).
SIGHTS TO SEE: In Chicago, Jose Luis Sanchez Pando noted the '18 edition of the ICC "features three tournaments" in the U.S., Europe and Singapore. Because of the recently-concluded World Cup, many of the "most renowned stars will be absent from the first few games as they rest from participating in Russia." But the teams' "numerous, deep benches still guarantee a fine spectacle with high-quality, world-class players" (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 7/18). ESPN.com's Jonathan Smith noted Man City "will wear special Manchester-themed names and number fonts on their shirts" for their ICC games in the U.S. A special font has been "designed, inspired by the mosaic floor of the Victorian-era Manchester Town Hall, and will include the iconic 'worker bee' symbol of the city" (ESPN.com, 7/19).