Real welcomes Real

By and

For the second summer in a row, Rice-Eccles Stadium will be going international-for one day only.

In what is being dubbed the “Battle for the Crown,” second-year MLS franchise Real Salt Lake will take on Spanish power Real Madrid. The friendly will take place at Rice-Eccles on natural grass on Aug. 12 at 7:30 p.m.

Executives from both clubs announced details of the showdown during a press conference at the stadium Wednesday afternoon.

“Real Madrid is the premier soccer team in the world, and we are elated to welcome them to our home,” RSL owner David Checketts said. “Since our inception, we have been working to bring them to Utah. We will once again install a grass surface at Rice-Eccles Stadium for this historic game, giving our season-ticket holders the first opportunity to see one of the world’s great soccer clubs.”

The late-summer tilt will be Real Madrid’s only pre-season appearance in the United States. RSL, on the other hand, will still be right in the middle of its season-and if recent play holds up, the team may even be in the middle of a playoff race. Three days before the friendly, Real Salt Lake takes on the Colorado Rapids on the road; and on Aug. 16, the team takes to the road again to face the Columbus Crew.

Rice-Eccles Stadium played host to another international spectacle just a season ago when the U.S. National Team took on Costa Rica in a World Cup qualifying match. The national meet was the second half of a doubleheader at the stadium, as nearly 41,000 fans got the chance to see an RSL regular-season game, followed by the qualifier.

Both RSL and Real Madrid expect their match to see the same kind of success.

“We are very excited to go to Salt Lake,” Real Madrid Vice President of Sport Emilio Butragueno said. “The relationship with Real Salt Lake is excellent. We know this is the first step in a long-term partnership. We will put on a great show for the fans in Salt Lake, and we will bring our best players. Everyone involved is looking forward to the experience.”