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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Mark Your Calendars: Liverpool vs. AS Roma, July 25 At Fenway Park

After knowing about this for months, Liverpool officially announced today that they will face AS Roma on Wednesday, July 25 at Fenway Park.

As any Boston Red Sox fan knows, the Red Sox owners John Henry and Tom Werner have owned Liverpool since 2010. With this year's 100th anniversary of Fenway, what better time to bring their two cash cows together for one night only.

Liverpool will be in the United States for 12 days this summer and they've already been slated for two exhibition matches. Big time European clubs often take U.S. tours (to improve the brand abroad) and Liverpool last appeared in North America in 2004 (NJ, CT and Toronto).

A group of four Boston executives closed a deal for Roma in August to become the first foreign majority owners of a Serie A club. New Roma president Thomas DiBenedetto is also a limited partner in the Fenway group.

"During its 100-year history, Fenway Park has hosted some of the best in athletic competition, and a match between Liverpool and Roma -- two of the world's most well-known and respected clubs -- is an appropriate way to ... showcase our ballpark to an international audience," Liverpool owner John Henry said.

The match also features the two teams that contested the 1984 European Cup final, which Liverpool won in a penalty shootout.

Liverpool is the fourth Premier League team to announce a preseason tour of the United States, following Chelsea, Tottenham and Aston Villa.

Boston will serve as Liverpool's base throughout the tour, and the team will train at Harvard University.

"Our goal is to create an unforgettable experience for our North American fans while building a lasting legacy for Liverpool here in the States," Liverpool chairman Tom Werner said.

I was lucky enough to get to cover Sporting vs. Celtic at Fenway two summers ago so I'm really hoping that I can get a credential for this one too. That first match was nice but admittedly, there aren't a ton of Portuguese or Scottish people in New England. However, Liverpool is a huge draw anywhere in the world and there are plenty of Italians (and wannabe guidos) in the immediate area-the North End might shut down for a few hours.

It couldn't come at a better time in the summer since by then, only Major League Baseball will be going on and the weather should be perfect. The Champions League, London Olympics (no U.S. men) and Euro 2012 will have all concluded by the time these squads make their way to Boston. Picturing Steven Gerrard, Pepe Reina, Luis Suarez and Co. at Fenway is pretty cool, this is going to be a can't miss event for local soccer fans who want a taste of European soccer and crowds.

UPDATE 3/30: Liverpool will play Tottenham on July 28 in Baltimore at M&T Bank Stadium. Tottenham plays the LA Galaxy on July 24 and the New York Red Bulls on July 31.

Chelsea and Aston Villa also have U.S. tours. The 2012-13 EPL season starts on August 18.

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