Sources: Union could play Spanish power Real Madrid at Linc

Posted: May 17, 2011

A year ago on Yahoo, "Bon Jourrr" posed the following question:

"Do you think Philadelphia Union will ever play Real Madrid? The only game [Real] are playing this season (well, that I could find) is [against the Los Angeles] Galaxy, which is very far away from me, so I'll never be able to go."

One person, J25code2 replied: "I don't think so, the Galaxy have a lot of money, Philadelphia Union doesn't have the power that Galaxy has."

According to a source within the organization, the Union is close to proving J25code2 wrong.

The Daily News has learned that the Union is in "serious negotiations" and is "close" to hosting the Spanish giant this summer.

The match is scheduled for July 23 at Lincoln Financial Field and would be a part of the World Football Challenge, a series of summer friendlies between top European clubs and Major League Soccer teams. The WFC runs from July 16 to Aug. 6. Real is scheduled to play the Galaxy at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on July 16.

If confirmed, the Union-Real match could air on a stationin the ESPN family of networks or the Spanish TV network Univision. A source for a major cable network told the Daily News that a match between Real Madrid and Mexican side Club America was scheduled to be played at the Linc on July 23, to be televised on Univision. On the current WFC schedule, that match is a scratch.

According to the source, two issues are stalling an official announcement. The biggest is that July 23 conflicts with the Union's scheduled MLS match against Seattle at Qwest Field.

The next open date for that game would be Saturday, Oct. 8. Though not listed on Qwest Field's current schedule, a college football game is scheduled to play there on that date, the Union source said, causing "a little bit of shuffling." Division II Central Washington has the "Battle in Seattle IX" vs. Western Oregon on its schedule for that day.

Second, the source said the Union is extending the invitation only to play Real's first team. WFC takes place during the preseason for European clubs, including the Spanish Cup champions. The Union does not aspire to play an 11-man Real Madrid reserve side, which means such stars as Iker Casillas and Cristiano Ronaldo would compete.

However, summer international tournaments - specifically July's Copa America (or the South American cup) - could make Real's Brazilian and (Kaka and Pepe) and Argentine stars (Gonzalo Higuain and Angel DiMaria) absent.

Should this game happen, the Union would be a part of this summer's hottest slate of international club matches.

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