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Football: Van Gaal's United debut leads US 'invasion'

Published on Jul 22, 2014 6:46 AM
New Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal speaks to the media during a news conference at the club's Old Trafford Stadium in Manchester, northern England, on July 17, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Fifty years after the Beatles launched a British musical "invasion" of America, English football clubs are playing pre-season matches in the United States hoping to spark growth for the sport.

Premier League sides Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester City will combine to play 16 matches on US soil in a follow on to strong American interest in the World Cup.

"Football is growing here, particularly after the World Cup, and every time you come over you see it's getting bigger," Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney told the team's website. "It's incredible to see the number of fans who turn up to cheer us on. The crowds will be really good." More than 55,000 watched as hosts Seattle drew 3-3 with Spurs in Saturday's friendly, but the biggest and best events are yet to come.

New manager Louis Van Gaal kicks off his reign at Manchester United this week when the Reds visit the Los Angeles Galaxy, already in the middle of their Major League Soccer season, on Wednesday to kick off their US tour.

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