Real Madrid, D.C. United to Play in Seattle

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

D.C. United and Real Madrid yesterday finalized plans for a friendly on Aug. 9 in Seattle. The match pits the most successful club in MLS's 11-year history with perhaps the most accomplished side in European soccer annals.

The match will be played at Qwest Field, home of the NFL's Seahawks, instead of in the Washington area for several reasons. The Spanish power is already scheduled to face Real Salt Lake in Utah on Aug. 12 and preferred to stay in the West, and RFK Stadium (Nationals-Marlins series) and FedEx Field (approaching NFL exhibition season) were not available.

According to sources close to the negotiations, however, MLS officials were also reluctant to utilize another East Coast venue because they feared it would undermine ticket-selling efforts for the Aug. 12 exhibition between the New York Red Bulls and FC Barcelona, Madrid's bitter rival, at Giants Stadium.

"It is unfortunate we were not able to make arrangements for this game to be played within our market," United spokesman Doug Hicks said. "But D.C. United is always looking to face the best competition to gain experience for our team and to further our brand."

Because few United fans will be able to attend the game, organizers are exploring live TV options. The match will kick off at 11 p.m. Eastern time.

Real Madrid has won a record nine European championships and 29 Spanish titles, but last season, despite an extraordinary array of talent, the club finished second to Barcelona in domestic play and was eliminated from the Champions League by English club Arsenal in the round of 16.

Madrid's roster includes English midfielder David Beckham , the world's most popular player; Brazilian World Cup stars Ronaldo , Emerson , Roberto Carlos , Robinho and Cicinho ; Spanish forward Raul ; and Italian World Cup defender Fabio Cannavaro .

-- Steven Goff

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