MADRID SPAIN - JANUARY 13: Kaka (L) of Real Madrid tries to get past Felipe of Atletico Madrid during the Copa del Rey quarter final first leg match between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on January 13 2011 in Madrid Spain. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
Setting: Saturday, July 23 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia; kickoff scheduled for just after 9:00 PM Eastern
Broadcast Information: ESPN Deportes and ESPN3.com nationally, with coverage beginning at 9:00 PM Eastern
For the Real Madrid Perspective, Visit Managing Madrid
Just three days after the Philadelphia Union took a rather exhilarating 1-0 victory against Everton thanks to a late goal from academy player Christian Hernandez, the Union welcome Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid to Lincoln Financial Field. Suffice to say, things won't get any easier for Philadelphia. José Mourinho's side can be described with just about every positive adjective you can think of for a team -- they are, simply put, all around dominant.
Fortunately for the 50,000+ expected to fill the Linc, Los Blancos won't be holding back. They are contractually obligated to play many of their first team players, and they have stayed true to those obligations in their two matches in the United States so far. Some of the absolute best players in the world -- and a couple of the best in the recorded history of the game -- will be on the pitch tomorrow. Taking on our local side. How special is that?
Piotr Nowak, John Hackworth and Rob Vartughian are expected to put out more of a standard starting eleven than they did against Everton; in other words, expect to see Danny Califf, Sebastien Le Toux, Faryd Mondragon and Carlos Ruiz see some minutes tomorrow. Obviously, there's no desire to see anyone overworked or injured, on either side. As cool as being able to play Everton and Real Madrid is, the Union are still in the middle of their season. And they're in contention for their first-ever playoff berth. It doesn't do anybody any good to have someone hurt and missing critical MLS matches going forward. Same sort of thing goes for Real Madrid -- like Everton, they're in preseason form and it does them no good to have players hurt a month before their La Liga fixtures even start.
Truth be told, there's not a lot to preview in this one tactically. There's almost no point. We know what to expect from the Union at this point, and Real Madrid is ... well ... Real Madrid. Ronaldo, Kaka, Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Pepe, Xabi Alonso ... these are truly world class names. It's going to be a thrill to see these names go against both players we watch nearly every week, and players who may one day be on our TVs nearly every week, whether they be academy members or as-yet unknown trialists.
If you're heading down to the Linc tomorrow, or will be watching on ESPN Deportes or through ESPN3.com, just enjoy it, regardless of the result.