Miami Gardens, FL – Kansas City has been trying to claim the title of “soccer capital of America” through a new marketing campaign. Cute. Miami is obviously the center of big time soccer in the U.S., and having an MLS squad is just a formality that is an inevitability at this point (but damn, can we hurry it up?) Nevertheless, Miami is consistently the top market in ratings during the World Cup, and we always fill up Hard Rock Stadium (The Rock) when big teams come to town. Last year we got to witness the 1st ever El Clasico played on North American soil, so it’s no surprise that the two biggest teams in the world, Manchester United vs Real Madrid, would play their 2018 International Champions Cup (ICC) match in Miami.
Relevent Sports, year after year, continues to host a great preseason for the big time euro squads. Jose Mourinho expressed that sentiment in his postgame comments, saying that “Relevent, they are the best in the world organizing preseasons, and I feel really sorry that we couldn’t give them more because we didn’t have more players to bring. I know that Real Madrid would feel the same.” With a majority of star players still on vacation after playing in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, most teams making the trip to the U.S. for the ICC had to field players from their bench and 2nd team ranks.
However, some stars play for nations that didn’t qualify for Russia, so those guys are getting a head start on their 2018-19 campaigns. Alexis Sanchez looks to be well on his way to reaching his form, earning Man of the Match tonight with his goal in the 18th minute, and adding an assist to Ander Herrera in the 27th minute. Mourinho said about his forward, “Imagine Alexis Sanchez fresh. The way the man is running after playing four matches, 90 minutes, I think he is in a fantastic condition…” He then went on to mention Victor Lindelöf, Marcus Rashford, Romelu Lukaku, and Phil Jones as the “four important players”, still on vacation from after national team duties, that will help ManU in the first three weeks of the Premiere League. It’s interesting that he left out Paul Pogba though, who had a great summer, helping France win their 2nd World Cup title.
— Lemon City Live (@LemonCityLive) August 1, 2018
Real Madrid were also without a majority of their stars. Most notably, Cristiano Ronaldo is now playing for Juventus. When Madrid manager, Julen Lopetegui was asked about how the team would fare without their former superstar, he responded, “I’m extremely happy with this roster right now. We have an exciting task in front of us, and that’s to remake/reinvent this club without Cristiano Ronaldo. In fact, we will look to make an even better team than last year…”. Madrid did, however, start two of their superstars in Gareth Bale, and Karim Benzema. Karim, otherwise known as “Coco”, showed that, Cristiano or no Cristiano, he can still put the ball in the back of the net. Theo Hernandez sent in a cross that the Madrid #9 would control and send past long-time rumored Kaylor Navas replacement, David de Gea, in the 2nd stoppage time minute of the 1st half.
The 2nd half half saw some action, as Isco, Marco Asensio, and Toni Kroos would all sub into the match in the 77th minute, but could not take victory away from the youngsters of Manchester. The Red Devils would hold on to win 2-1 in front of 64,141 fans at The Rock.
— International Champions Cup (@IntChampionsCup) August 1, 2018