Bundesliga club Eintracht Frankfurt will spend part of their preseason at the Zions Bank Real Academy and play Real Salt Lake in a friendly at Rio Tinto Stadium on July 10.
Frankfurt may not be as large of a club as Manchester United or Inter Milan, who RSL faced in summer friendlies in 2017 and 2016 respectively, but they are a strong side in one of the top leagues in the world. Frankfurt currently sit in fourth place in German first division. RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen has committed to bringing a big international team to town for a friendly every year and for the first time in history, we get to see a Bundesliga club.
At the Zions Bank Real Academy grand opening on February 28, Hansen had this to say:
We’ve made a commitment to bring a major European team to RSL every year. We’ve brought Inter Milan, we’ve brought Man U. I was here two weeks ago with a major Bundesliga, a little, I won’t say arrogant, but their Bundesliga, discussing coming to Utah. I met them at the stadium, they were friendly, cordial, but, “what can you do to impress us?” By the time we finished four hours out here (ZBRA), he wanted to become our GM (laughs). He says, “We’ve not done anything like this in Germany”. They’ve worked out how they’ll spend 8 days here this summer training and they’ll play a game here with RSL.
Here are three reasons why you should be excited about RSL vs. Frankfurt.
A historic moment for the RSL against a historic team
As far as I can tell, a Bundesliga team has never played in Utah. The German first division is one of the three best leagues in the world. It’s a league that’s full of young Americans as well. As an example, Taylor Booth (RSL Academy player from Eden, Utah) is rumored to sign with FC Bayern.
Eintracht Frankfurt has a rich history. They’ve won the German Championship in 1959, DFB-Pokal (similar to the FA Cup or US Open Cup) in 1974, 1975, 1981, and 1988, and 2. Bundesliga (German second division) in 1998, and the Europa League in 1980.
The amount of international press RSL received after playing Manchester United last season was incredible. Bringing major teams in play against Real not only raises the level of play for the RSL players, but also the club profile in the world spotlight.
Summer preseason friendlies are fun. Last summer we witnessed Romelu Lukaku first ever goal in a Man U shirt. It didn’t matter that RSL lost 2-1. It was a good time and fun to see players from another league and another part of the world.
The possible return of Carlos Salcedo
Maybe “possible” should be replaced with “unlikely” since Mexico will be in some kind of competition in Russia that summer. The World Cup runs from June 14th to July 15th, which means Mexico would have to get knocked out pretty early to see Salcedo joining Frankfurt. Many diehard USMNT fans are hoping for this very thing, but for different reasons. By all accounts, Carlos should be on the World Cup squad for Mexico, so seeing him at Rio Tinto is less than likely if Mexico make a good run.
If Salcedo were to come back to Utah, that would be a headline. His departure was odd, rumors of his father driving him to leave the club abound. He underwhelmed in an RSL shirt, but always showed promise and has obviously done well since leaving. That’s not to say his dad was right, but it’s good to see former academy players on their national team squad and playing in Europe.
If you’re salty about the way Carlos left, maybe a win over his team will feel good, even if he’s not there.
American International Timothy Chandler
Unlike Salcedo, Timmy Chandler’s national team will not be in attendance for this summer’s tournament that must not be named. The German-American right back has spent much of his career at Frankfurt. He has 29 caps for the USMNT.
Chandler did not play against Venezuela with the national team last summer due to a hamstring injury. We’re lucky to see US National team players often throughout MLS, but seeing a player with their club team gives different insight. Especially when that team is in the Bundesliga. Chandler turns 28 on March 29th, so if he continues to do well in Germany, there’s good chance he will be around for the next World Cup cycle. This is an opportunity to see him in his element.