West Ham United can confirm the club will be taking on Major League Soccer side Columbus Crew in a pre-season friendly in the United States on Sunday 20 July.
The match, which will take place from 5pm local time at the 20,145-seater Crew Stadium in Ohio, will be a high-profile fixture ahead of the prestigious MLS All-Star Game in Toronto, Canada on Thursday 24 July. Columbus have the joint-best record of any team in the United States top flight to date in the 2008 season, having won six of their first nine games, and are riding high in the Eastern Conference. They also advanced this week in the national US Open Cup with a 2-0 win over Real Salt Lake.
West Ham United and United States defender Jonathan Spector is looking forward to the challenge. He said: "It is really exciting news to hear we are playing Columbus Crew as part of our pre-season tour. They are one of the most highly supported teams in the MLS and were the first to have a purpose built stadium to meet the demand of supporters. They have some talented players, so it will be a challenging test for us as well."
Columbus, who play in yellow and black and were one of the MLS's inaugural clubs when founded in 1994, are managed by Sigi Schmid. The club have several leading names including highly-rated young United States midfielders like Robbie Rogers and Eddie Gaven, both 21, along with veterans such as 75-times capped US defender Frankie Hejduk, who played against England this week, and former Boca Juniors and Argentina striker Guillermo Barros Schelotto. Crew President Mark McCullers said: "We are pleased once again to bring the best soccer from across the globe right here to Columbus and to provide the best competitive challenge for our team. The English Premier League is arguably the best league in the world."
West Ham United are set to arrive in the United States on Friday 18 July, with the Columbus fixture following two days later. The team will then head direct to Toronto. In the high-profile MLS All-Star Game, the club will take on a selection of Major League Soccer's best players. These will be chosen from the 14 clubs, under the name of the MLS All-Stars and could potentially feature LA Galaxy's David Beckham. The fixture will be played at BMO Field, home of Toronto FC, and will see Alan Curbishley's team looking to achieve what Celtic, Chelsea and Fulham have not managed in the past three seasons and earn victory.
The club are awaiting ticketing news for both fixtures on the North American tour, please return to whufc.com for further information as and when available. For more, go to the official Columbus Crew and Major League Soccer websites.