How far down the list of prospective All-Star Game candidates Everton may have been is no longer relevant, for the English Premier League team is headed to Salt
Lake City to play in the annual exhibition July 29 at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Perhaps a half-dozen teams - including to varying degrees Liverpool, Inter Milan, Chelsea, Valencia and
Villarreal - had been in the mix at some point, but a summer already busy with domestic exhibitions, a revamped schedule for the Champions' League and UEFA Cup competitions, and earlier
starting dates for European league seasons in a World Cup (2009-10) year complicated the negotiation process.
Everton, which will play Chelsea in the FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium
May 30, has come to the United States the last two summers. It played Columbus and Real Salt Lake in 2007 and Chicago and Colorado last year.
"We are all looking forward to the
match in Salt Lake City," said Everton coach David Moyes
. "I am sure there will be a lot of interest in the game and it will be a valuable part of our preseason schedule.
We always enjoy spending time in America during the summer because the facilities are first-class and there is a warm welcome wherever we go."
There were apparently no South
American teams in contention to face an MLS All-Star team in the latest facility to join the league's list of new stadiums. RSL hosted its first match last October at Rio Tinto Stadium, which
holds approximately 20,000 and will also host a USA women's match (May 20) and U.S. men's World Cup qualifier (Sept. 5) this year.
American goalie Tim
, who joined Everton from Manchester United in a $5.6 million transfer two years ago, said: "I can't wait to play the MLS All-Stars. I will doubtless know a few of the guys
from the U.S. team and I know full well that it will be a real test for us at that stage of our preseason.
"The fans over there always enjoy watching English teams in action and
I'm sure there will be a terrific atmosphere in the stadium."
Howard played for MLS in the 2001 and 2002 All-Star Games prior to joining Manchester United in 2003.
MLS holds a perfect 5-0 record against foreign club teams in the All-Star Game, having beaten Chivas Guadalajara (2003), Fulham (2005), Chelsea (2006), Glasgow Celtic (2007) and West Ham
United (2008) in past editions.
RSL has averaged only 12,550 fans for its three home games this season yet sold out two of the four games it played at Rio Tinto last year.