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On July 22 the streets of Philadelphia were covered with people in blue. But it wasn’t 76ers blue. It was Chelsea FC blue. The European soccer giants were in town to face English upstarts Brighton and Hove Albion as part of the Premier League Summer Series in the United States.

The Premier League Summer Series features nine matches in five venues across the East Coast of the USA. Six teams are participating, including 2021 Champions League winners Chelsea FC and 2023 Carabao Cup runners-up Newcastle United. For this first USA Summer Series the cities included New York City, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Atlanta, and Orlando.

Before each of the summer series games is a fan fest. The fan fest has loads of activities from playing in the Nike Skills Arena to spinning a wheel to win a Premier League jersey. The fan fest also has lots of former and current players hanging out with the fans and signing autographs. By having this big fan fest, the Premier League hopes to attract more fans to English soccer by showing them the great stuff that happens at a game.

Soccer’s popularity in the U.S. keeps growing as now it has surpassed sports like hockey, golf, and motor racing in the past few years. The Washington Post ran a poll asking Americans what their favorite sport was and 8% of people picked soccer. That's more than hockey at 4%—and closing in on baseball 9% and basketball 11%. (In case you were wondering, football is 37%.) 

After Lionel Messi’s recent transfer to Inter Miami in the MLS, jersey orders are backed up until October. This year the MLS broke its attendance record at a LA Galaxy vs LAFC game with over 82,000 people making the trip to the Rose Bowl for the game.

With the 2026 World Cup looming, U.S. Soccer is doing everything they can to make soccer more popular. Signing one of the greatest players of all time in Lionel Messi and other stars like Sergio Busquets and Lorenzo Insigne were also big steps that the MLS took to bring in more fans. While all of this was happening the Premier League was planning their Summer Series to add on to the excitement surrounding soccer in the States.

It wasn’t just the Premier League that is touring the USA this summer. The Soccer Champions Tour consists of two clubs each from three different countries: Manchester United and Arsenal from England, Real Madrid and Barcelona from Spain, and Juventus and AC Milan from Italy. Top international players like Robert Lewandowski, Marcus Rashford, and Vinicius Jr. will be participating in the tour—as well as American stars Sergino Dest and “Captain America” Christian Pulisic.

Real Madrid and Barcelona have one of the most historic rivalries in sports, previously boasting players like Christiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. The teams will play “El Clasico”— maybe the biggest rivalry game ever—in Arlington, Texas. Because of the history and rivalry between the two sides it will almost certainly be an amazing game for their American fans.

Soccer is a growing sport in the United States so everyone is trying to hop on the bus whether it be the MLS, the USMNT, or the international soccer clubs on tours in the States. We don’t know what will come next but we do know U.S. soccer is on the rise.

Photo credit: Jaylynn Nash/USA TODAY Sports