Thursday, April 20, 2006

Chelseas to play MLS All Stars in Chicago in August...

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. (AP) -- The champion of the English Premier League is coming to Major League Soccer.

For one day, at least.

Chelsea, which is a point away from winning its second straight Premier League title, will play in the MLS All-Star game on Aug. 5. Chelsea will be the third foreign team in four years to play in the midseason exhibition.

"This game will feature our best players against players from one of the best teams in the world," MLS commissioner Don Garber said. "These are players that are celebrated not just when playing for England, but celebrated when they play for their club team. We're pleased to have a team of Chelsea's stature coming here to play."

The game will be played at Bridgeview Stadium, the Chicago Fire's soccer-specific stadium that is scheduled to open in June.

The match originally was scheduled for July 29, but it had to be pushed back a week to accommodate English player union rules requiring a 30-day break between the World Cup and the start of club training. The World Cup in Germany runs June 9-July 9.

Four MLS games originally scheduled for Aug. 5 will be moved to the weekend of July 29. The New England Revolution-Chivas USA game scheduled for Aug. 6 will remain as scheduled in Los Angeles so it can be part of a doubleheader involving Spanish league champion Barcelona.

MLS spokesman Dan Courtemanche said it was unclear how players from Chivas USA or the Revolution, if selected for the All-Star game, would be able to participate.

The MLS All-Stars beat Mexican league power Chivas in 2003 and England's Fulham last year. Though this match falls during Chelsea's preseason, it will be a competitive game, said Paul Smith, the team's director of business affairs.

"Chelsea doesn't play exhibition games," Smith said. "We will be playing our first match in (England) the weekend after we play here. So players who come for the preseason training, they will be ready to play."

This will be the third straight year Chelsea has played a preseason match in the United States. The club also has a cooperative agreement regarding players, coaching and programming with MLS' Los Angeles Galaxy.

"This club regards this as being a real honor to be invited" to play in the All-Star game, Smith said. "This helps us build our profile here in North America, which is our long-term ambition."

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



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