Olympique Marseille's Florian Thauvin in action against Nice's Dante during a Ligue 1 match in March. (Jean-Paul Pelissier/Reuters)

EA Ligue 1 Games

What: Four French first-division clubs competing in a preseason tournament at Audi Field.

Thursday’s schedule

Saint-Etienne vs. Montpellier, 6 p.m.

Olympique Marseille vs. Bordeaux, 9 p.m.

Sunday’s schedule

Third-place match, 6 p.m.

Championship game, 9 p.m.

What to know: Seeking to boost the brand of their clubs and the league as a whole, French soccer officials will use D.C. United’s stadium to showcase four teams. Aside from the tournament, Olympique Marseille will face United in a friendly next Wednesday.

Ligue 1 — which will kick off the 2019-20 season Aug. 9-11 — is considered the fifth-best circuit in Europe, behind the Premier League (England), Bundesliga (Germany), La Liga (Spain) and Serie A (Italy). Along those lines, it is also well behind those leagues in popularity in the U.S. market. Only Paris Saint-Germain carries weight with U.S. audiences.

Two visiting clubs are owned by Americans: Bordeaux’s Joseph Dagrosa, a financial executive based in Miami, and Olympique Marseille’s Frank McCourt, the former owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Last season, while PSG was running away with its sixth title in seven years, Saint-Etienne finished fourth in the 20-team league and qualified for the UEFA Europa League. Marseille was fifth, Montpellier sixth and Bordeaux 14th.

Saint-Etienne is the most-decorated Ligue 1 club with 10 league trophies but none since 1980-81. Marseille is second on the list with nine, most recently in 2009-10.

Marseille is seeking to recover from disciplinary actions and a coaching change. The club was ordered to pay $2.24 million in financial penalties for violating financial rules tied to transfers and salaries. Andre Villas-Boas, a former Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur boss, has taken over for Rudi Garcia.

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