Aston Villa announce U.S. summer tour
Aston Villa will compete against Major League Soccer sides FC Dallas and Houston Dynamo on a U.S. summer tour in July, the Premier League club has announced.
Paul Lambert’s team will play the first friendly on American soil against Dallas on July 23 at the Toyota Stadium, while facing Dynamo on July 26 at the BVA Compass Stadium.
The Villans -- whose chairman, Randy Lerner, ran the Cleveland Browns for a decade before selling the NFL franchise in 2012 -- have travelled to play in America on six occasions in the past.
U.S. international Brad Guzan -- who played in the MLS for four seasons with Chivas USA -- is looking forward to the challenge awaiting Villa.
"It's exciting. I think last time we were in America the boys really enjoyed their time there,” he told Villa’s official website.
"We're looking forward to it again and there won't be much travel between cities so everyone will really enjoy it.
"I still keep up with the teams in MLS and how they're doing and the league in general.
"It will be nice to see some old friends and some familiar faces when we get over there but, more importantly, it will be a good chance for us to get our preseason underway and really try to get some quality work done."
Guzan acknowledged that the summer heat will be tough for his teammates to combat, and knows that both MLS sides will provide Villa with a stern test.
"Certainly, it will be hot but that will be fine," he continued. "They will be in the middle of their season, Dallas and Houston, and they'll be used to the heat and the demands of how the game is played in that type of climate.
“So for us it will be a real challenge and I think it will be an exciting one. The league is on the rise and the quality of play has got much better since I left and, as always, the physical demand is there.
"Houston have a proven track record of being successful, especially in the playoffs. They're not going to be easy games, they'll be challenges.
"Just from the years that I've been here, the amount of Villa fans in America who have reached out to me via social media or letters in the post has been great."
Villa have 26 supporters’ clubs in the US, including the Dallas Lions, and the club’s manager Paul Lambert believes the good facilities, fine weather and support will be the perfect preparation ahead of the 2014-15 Premier League campaign.
"It's a good place to go and play football," he said. "The facilities are really good, the weather will be warm as well and a lot of teams in the Barclays Premier League go to the US now for pre-season, so it will be good for us.
"The Premier League is world-renowned and everywhere you go people know what it's about. They're getting into it now in the US, too, and it's good for us to tap into that interest and to attract new fans to the Club.
"In terms of their teams and what we might encounter in our games against FC Dallas and Houston Dynamo, you get hard graft always from American players.
“They're strong characters. For us, Brad [Guzan] is a great example of this. His enthusiasm is fantastic and I'm sure a lot of the players we'll be up against will be similar in that respect."