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SuperLiga adds to heavy summer schedule
by Ridge Mahoney, March 14th, 2008 6:45AM
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Memo to teams planning a visit to the North America this summer: Hurry up. The schedule is filling rapidly.

Dates for the second SuperLiga tournament were announced Thursday, adding 15 matches to the days between July 12 and Aug. 5 and possibly causing conflicts yet to be foreseen, since venues for the semifinals (July 29 and 30) and final have yet to be determined. There could also be issues with SuperLiga finalists losing their Olympic players, should any be on their rosters.

D.C. United and Houston are in Group A with Guadalajara and Atlante; New England and Chivas USA will play Pachuca and Santos, as well as each other, in Group B. The top two teams in each group advance to the semifinals, with the semifinal winners contesting the Aug. 5 final.

To determine its four representatives, MLS chose the top four teams ranked by regular-season points in 2007. Criteria used by the Mexican league wasn't revealed. Club America reportedly turned down its invitation. All SuperLiga matches will be televised by TeleFutra.

The MLS All-Star Game - July 24 at BMO Field in Toronto -- will fall right into the middle of SuperLiga. Word leaked out of the MLS offices through several sources Tuesday night that West Ham United is in the final stages of negotiations to play in the All-Star Game, and numerous blogs and Web sites have picked up the item in the last 36 hours.

Real Madrid will play Real Salt Lake Aug. 9, and play at least one other game - perhaps against Red Bull New York at Giants Stadium -- during its visit. A third match has been discussed but finding a suitable opponent and venue is slowing down the process. The league's marketing arm, SUM, is trying to match MLS teams with the overseas visitors, but at least one Real Madrid match could be against a Mexican league team.

Barcelona is planning to visit these shores. Believe it or not, it is pondering making two trips: one in late May/early June without the European players who will be training with their national teams to prepare for the European Championship, and another in August without its Mexican stars Rafael Marquez and Giovani Dos Santos, who will either be summoned for the Olympic Games - if Mexico qualifies - or the first date of World Cup qualifiers Aug. 20. (European World Cup qualifying doesn't start in earnest until the first week of September.)

The first trip would pit Barca against Mexican league or MLS teams, with Dallas and Los Angeles among the possible host cities. According to a source, a Real Madrid-Barcelona exhibition has also been discussed and while unlikely hasn't been ruled out.

SuperLiga Schedule

(all times Eastern):
July 12
D.C. United vs. Guadalajara (RFK Stadium), 8 p.m.
Houston vs. Atlante (Robertson Stadium), 10 p.m.

July 13
New England vs. Santos (Gillette Stadium), 8 p.m.
Chivas USA vs. Pachuca (Home Depot Center), 10 p.m.

July 15
D.C. United vs. Atlante (RFK Stadium), 8 p.m.
Houston vs. Guadalajara, 10 p.m.

July 16
New England vs. Pachuca (Gillette Stadium) 8 p.m.
Chivas USA vs. Santos (Home Depot Center) 10 p.m.

July 19
D.C. United vs. Houston (RFK Stadium) 8 p.m.
Atlante vs. Guadalajara (venue TBD) 10 p.m.

July 20
Chivas USA vs. New England (venue TBD, Los Angeles) 8 p.m.
Santos vs. Pachuca (venue TBD) 10 p.m.

July 29
Semifinal #1 (venue, time TBD)

July 30
Semifinal# 2 (venue, time TBD)

Aug. 5
Final (venue, time TBD).

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