Real Madrid has been known to push the envelope, whether it be with luring the world's top players, or signing expressive coaches in an effort to remain at the forefront of world soccer. What the club has up its sleeve now certainly ups the ante in that regard.
The Spanish power unveiled plans for a $1 billion island resort in the United Arab Emirates that is due to open in January, 2015. It is being built, in part, to strengthen, reinforce and expand the club's presence in the Middle East and Asia, according to comments made by club president Florentino Perez at an announcement at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on Thursday.
According to the club's plans, this resort will include a marina in the shape of the Real Madrid crest, hotels, villas, an amusement park and a 10,000-seat stadium that has one side open-ended to a body of water.
More computer-generated renderings of the future resort can be seen here.
What do you think of this fantasy Real Madrid island? Already booking your 2015 trip to the UAE?
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The group stage for CONCACAF Olympic qualifying is hours from getting underway, as the U.S. Under-23 men's national team faces Cuba in the opening match at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn.
While Cuba may not seem like a challenging opponent, keep in mind that in 2008 the United States opened its qualifying campaign against Cuba and was held to a 1-1 draw before beating Panama and Honduras en route to the semifinals.
Canada and El Salvador boast a few more known commodities on their rosters, and with the United States being the favorite to win the group, both figure to duke it out for second place behind the Americans in Group A and a coveted spot in the tournament semifinals. But there's a reason they play the games on the field and not on paper.
Here's a closer look at the Cuba, Canada and El Salvador Under-23 national teams:
By JOEY SAMUEL
Philadelphia Union right back Sheanon Williams is with the United States U-23 team as it prepares to open CONCACAF Olympic qualifying. While the call-up is an honor for Williams, Union coach Peter Nowak his staff aren't exactly thrilled with how the situation played out.
During a conference call Wednesday with reporters, Nowak expressed how the Williams call-up by U-23 coach Caleb Porter actually came as quite the surprise, at a time when the Union defense has several issues that need sorting out.
Captain and centerback Danny Califf was already held out of last Sunday's 2-1 home loss to the Colorado Rapids, although the circumstances surrounding his benching were controversial. Left back Porfirio Lopez was with the Costa Rican national team Wednesday, taking part in a friendly against Jamaica, prior to returning to the team on Thursday. Now the Union must deal with the loss of their starting right back.
Photo by ISIphotos.com
Alejandro Guido is the latest American heading to Club Tijuana.
The U.S. Under-20 attacking midfielder will join the contingent of Americans at the top-flight Mexican club after signing his first professional contract on Wednesday. According to Yanks Abroad, the 18-year-old Guido signed a three-year deal with Xolos, where he'll team with Joe Corona, Edgar Castillo and Greg Garza.
Guido, who was reportedly on trial with Dutch side Vitesse over the summer, is one of the rising stars in the U.S. Under-20 player pool, and he starred for the United States in last summer's FIFA U-17 World Cup. He started every match in the tournament, scoring in the opening win over the Czech Republic. He was part of the most-recent U.S. U-20 training camp held in Florida, his first appearance at that level after advancing from the U-17s.
What do you think of the signing?
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Photo by Marc Atkins/ISIphotos.com
By THOMAS FLOYD
Tottenham may be slumping, but goalkeeper Brad Friedel doesn't feel the pressure.
The American has put his club's recent tailspin into perspective, saying, "Football is not pressure. It might be for some. If you want to heap the pressure on, then that's you as an individual person. But you play football. It's a game."
Friedel went on to cite the heart attack Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba suffered during a match against Tottenham at White Hart Lane on Saturday, implying that such an incident is a reminder of how inconsequential the sport can be in the big picture.
"We want to win, but we all saw here last Saturday what pressure was," Friedel said. "I've got three kids, and raising them is far more pressure than a football match."
Here are some more stories to keep your Thursday rolling:
Tottenham is set for a return trip to the United States, and they'll play against Major League Soccer's two biggest spenders while they are here.
Spurs announced that they will play the Los Angeles Galaxy at the Home Depot Center on July 24 before heading across the country to Red Bull Arena to play the New York Red Bulls as part of the inaugural New York Invitational Cup on July 31. The matches give U.S. fans a chance to see American goalkeeper Brad Friedel along with standouts Gareth Bale and Rafael van der Vaart as Tottenham conducts part of its preseason in America.
Tottenham last came to the United States in July, 2010, when they played the Red Bulls in Thierry Henry's first match with the MLS side. Henry scored for the Red Bulls, while current Galaxy forward Robbie Keane and Gareth Bale tallied for Tottenham in their 2-1 victory. Tottenham also played the San Jose Earthquakes on that trip, with the two playing to a 0-0 draw at Buck Shaw Stadium.
"The Club is proud of its reputation for playing entertaining soccer and we believe this attacking style is responsible for the significant rise in the number of fans across the USA in recent years," Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy said in a club statement. "This tour presents us with a great opportunity to give something back to those fans and also introduce new supporters to the Tottenham Hotspur way of playing soccer."
What do you think of the friendlies?
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Photo by Rick Yeatts/ISIphotos.com
What started with the appointment of a new coach and an evaluation a deep U.S. Under-23 player pool five months ago is set to culminate in meaningful games on the field starting tonight.
The favored U.S. U-23 national team kicks off its quest for the London Olympics at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn., taking on Cuba (9 p.m., Universal Sports Network/mun2/CONCACAF.com, USN streams) in the first of three group matches in a five-day span.
Following monthly training camps and a number of friendlies, the U-23s will be looking to do what the heralded U.S. U-20 squad could not do ahead of last year's World Cup: Meet lofty expectations and qualify for a major international tournament. Four players on the U-23s — Perry Kitchen, Amobi Okugo, Joe Gyau and Zarek Valentin — were on that U-20 side, but they each bring another year of professional seasoning and experience to the table and join a U.S. youth side that is perhaps more professionally advanced than any of its predecessors.
More notes about the U.S. team and video from last night's training session in Nashville are after the jump: