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Arsenal (A) Sun 1 Mar 2015, 14:05, Barclays Premier League


With pre-season just around the corner Everton have already lined up a number of friendlies ahead of the new campaign.
The tour of the United States for the International Champions Cup is undoubtedly the highlight of pre-season, with the Blues set to take on some of the world's biggest names.
Roberto Martinez’s team will start their tour in San Francisco against Italian champions Juventus before travelling down to Los Angeles to play either LA Galaxy or Spanish giants Real Madrid.
The Toffees could then face one of AC Milan, Inter Milan, Chelsea or Valencia in the championship round which concludes in Miami.
American journalist and Sports Illustrated US soccer expert Grant Wahl says the Blues will be well-received across the Atlantic, thanks to the profiles of Tim Howard and former loanee Landon Donovan.
“It’s great that Everton are one of the teams coming here because there is a lot of interest in them in the United States due to the success the club have had in recent years," explained Wahl.
“There are also a lot of American players who have close ties with Everton from Howard to Donovan and even going back to Brian McBride.
“This tournament is organised in a different way to pre-season friendlies in the past which have featured European clubs in the United States, so there is some excitement here.
“Having an actual tournament with some of the best European clubs coming here to play against each other for a real trophy in Miami is a nice way of trying something new.”
The popularity of the MLS has risen rapidly since the inaugural season in 1996 with the league managing to attract a number of world famous players including David Beckham, Thierry Henry and former Everton star Tim Cahill.
Wahl believes that clubs are now being smart and touring the country in pre-season to increase their popularity in this ever-increasing market.
“The United States is a massive country where soccer has grown in the last 10-15 years. Smart clubs and the world’s biggest clubs want to be bigger in the United States and capitalise on this growing market, so it is a win-win situation for everyone.
“When teams come over here it is great for the fans to see the teams up close who they would usually see on television from Europe during the season.
“It’s good for the club to increase their presence here and it’s nice for that level of commitment from Everton, the Italian clubs and Real Madrid. Madrid have visited the United States every year for quite a while now and so have other clubs.
“People here appreciate that level of interest and you’ll see good crowds at this tournament.”

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