The 2009, Pan Pacific championships will be played in Los Angeles from February 18th-19th at the Home Depot Center.
The tournament will feature the LA Galaxy who will host the affair. This special tournament which will also feature reigning champions of the Japanese, Korean, and Chinese leagues.
The tournament is a natural fit for Los Angeles which is the largest market for "futbol" in the United States and will likely attract fans rooting for all sides.
The tournament format has the Suwon Samsung Bluewings facing the Shandong Luneng Taishan on the first day as well as a match between Oita Trinita and the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Los Angeles Galaxy
The Los Angeles Galaxy are one of the most successful franchises in the history of Major League Soccer and will be making there second appearance in the tournament as the hosts.
In the 2008 tournament, the team finished third. Los Angeles Galaxy represent both Canada and the United States in the game. The Galaxy was founded in 1995.
The Oita Trinita are the surprise winners of the 2008 J-League. They represent both the youngest team to ever win the the J-League (having been established only in 1994) and also the first from the Southern Japanese island of Kyushu to ever win the cup.
The team was a powerhouse in the second tier of Japanese football before relegation earlier this decade.
The name which translates as "Trinity" in English is a nod to the historic role of Jesuit missionaries in the area during the 1600s.
Samsung Suwon Bluewing
Conversely, the Samsung Suwon Bluewings, are one of the most established teams in Asia. They have won the Asia Supercup and The AFC Champions League two times respectively. Perhaps their greatest moment came just last year when on July 29th, 2008 they bested touring FC Barcelona 1-0 at their own Big Bird Stadium.
The team has also faced Chelsea FC both in 2005 and 2007. The team losing both games. The Bluewings like the Los Angeles Galaxy were established in 1995.
This will mark the Bluewings second visit to the comfy, Home Depot Center. In the 2007 World Series of Soccer the Blue Wings lost to both Chelsea and the UANL Tigers at the Home Depot Center, though they did not play the Galaxy.
Shandong Luneng Taishan
The Shandong Luneng Taishan (founded in 1956) are the most accomplished team in the history of the Chinese SuperLeague, the highest level of Chinese football. The SuperLeague format has only been around since 2004 and Shandong Luneng emerged as champions in the 2006 and 2008 editions.
Shandong Luneng Taishan have also historically averaged the highest attendance in the Chinese SuperLeague
In its present format the tournament somewhat resembles the annual Konami Cup, Asia's highest level of baseball competition which features the champions of the Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Taiwanese league champions.
Future Pan-Pacific tournaments are likely to include Australian A-League sides and perhaps Mexican teams as well. The Australian A-League has talked of hosting a future edition of the tournament.
Joe "Nixon" is a Los Angeles based writer for several websites and magazines including PlayerPress.com
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