POMONA, Calif. — Manchester City is having an awfully busy summer in its quest for global domination, and much of that work is being done stateside.
Following a remarkable off-season spending spree on new players, City Football Group chief executive Ferran Soriano ventured into the Los Angeles suburbs Tuesday to announce plans to create a series of branded soccer playing and training facilities across North America.
City Football Group formalized its partnership with Goals Soccer Centres at a tidy complex where City’s logo is featured prominently on signage among several five-a-side fields. City’s investment will spur Goals’ expansion across the continent with similar complexes, building City’s brand among American and Canadian fans.
"We are convinced that the biggest opportunity for this sport is in the U.S.," Soriano said. "We know that 60 million Americans watch soccer every week. The U.S. is a land of opportunity for soccer, and this is why we are so happy to be here."
The complexes are another step in the global growth of CFG, which also owns Major League Soccer’s New York City FC and Australia’s Melbourne City plus a minority interest in Japan’s Yokohama F. Marinos. While serious soccer fans know all about Manchester City’s evolution into a big-budget superpower since its purchase by the Abu Dhabi United Group in 2008, the club realizes many casual North American fans still are more familiar with the red of Manchester United than City’s sky blue.
City’s work to raise its stateside profile is continuing with a barnstorming preseason tour, which has become practically an annual requirement for European clubs with dreams of captivating a worldwide audience.
After facing United in Houston last week in the rivals’ first meeting outside Britain, City is in Los Angeles to face Real Madrid on Wednesday at the Coliseum, expected to be packed with more than 80,000 fans.
Soriano was joined in Pomona by City players Yaya Toure, Nicolas Otamendi, Leroy Sane and newcomer Danilo. The stars participated in a quick game with local youth before expressing their optimism about the upcoming season under coach Pep Guardiola, who has made a huge impact in the transfer market after finishing third in the Premier League in his debut season.
"You can see Man City wants to win some trophies, to build something and get bigger," Sane said. "That’s a motivation for all of the players."
Danilo only signed with City on Sunday, leaving Real Madrid after two years to become another high-priced fullback in Guardiola’s off-season spending spree on defence. City also made extraordinarily expensive moves to get Kyle Walker from Tottenham earlier this month and Benjamin Mendy from Monaco on Monday.
"It’s always positive when there is this much competition," said Otamendi, a centre back. "It doesn’t allow for any of the players to relax. You always have to give 100 per cent, and it makes it complicated to choose the 11 for the squad. That’s why we need to have a strong preseason."