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By ESPN Staff

FC Barcelona to tour U.S. in August

NEW YORK -- Soccer United Marketing (SUM) today announced that FC Barcelona, led by Brazilian superstar Ronaldinho, will play three games this August as part of the club's first U.S. Tour since 2003.

Barcelona, a UEFA Champions League semifinalist and runaway leader in Spain's La Liga, will travel from coast to coast, playing its first-ever matches in three of the four largest cities in the United States: Los Angeles (Sunday, Aug. 6) and Houston (Wednesday, Aug. 9) versus Mexican clubs, and in New York against the New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer (Saturday, Aug. 12). Further details of the games in each city will be announced at a later date.

"This summer's FC Barcelona Tour promises to be one of the greatest soccer events ever to be played on U.S. soil," said MLS commissioner and SUM CEO Don Garber. "Everyone who loves soccer will get to see the magic of Ronaldinho, Samuel Eto'o and Lionel Messi with their own eyes. Major League Soccer and Soccer United Marketing are honored to bring Barcelona's exhilarating style of play to our fans. For many, this FC Barcelona Tour will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience."

FC Barcelona, coached by Dutch midfield legend Frank Rijkaard and recognized for its spectacular brand of attacking soccer, features some of the world's greatest players, including FIFA World Player of the Year Ronaldinho (Brazil), 18-year-old sensation Lionel Messi (Argentina), and African Player of the Year Samuel Eto'o (Cameroon). Also in the club's ranks are a host of players who will represent their countries in the 2006 FIFA World Cup: Rafael Marquez (Mexico), Carles Puyol (Spain), Deco (Portugal) and Mark Van Bommel (Holland).

"It is a good moment for FC Barcelona to promote its image in the great country of the U.S.," said FC Barcelona President Joan Laporta. "We are sure that, with the cooperation of MLS, Barca will become more recognizable among the North American public. We also believe that the presence of our team -- and our star players -- will assist the promotion and growth of soccer in the United States."

The Spanish giants will be making their first trip to the United States since 2003 when they played a three-game summer tour on the East Coast of the United States.