Rogers Centre, Where the Rodgers Era Begins
While it may seem the 2011-12 campaign just ended (the older you get, the faster time seems to fly), the start of the 2012-13 season is three weeks from Saturday. Yes, really.
Site: Rogers Centre, Toronto, ON
Date: July 21, 2012
Time: 4:00 p.m. ET
When this friendly was first discussed, I'm sure it was hoped Toronto FC would provide a decent challenge to help the Reds prepare for the new season.
They are, by far, the worst team in Major League Soccer, with only five points from 13 league contests and a goal differential of -15.
Former Plymouth manager Paul Mariner recently took over as boss at Toronto FC and the club has gotten draws in their last two matches. Having seen them play, though, they're god awful.
The Rogers Centre is where the Toronto Blue Jays play baseball, so I'm not sure how they've configured the field, but the sight lines may not be all that good for soccer.
And I'm sure that, while it's spelled differently, it's appropriate the Brendan Rodgers era will begin here.
Site: Fenway Park, Boston, MA
Date: July 25, 2012
Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
When Fenway Sports Group purchased Liverpool FC, a friendly at Fenway Park in Boston was inevitable.
AS Roma as the opponent at Fenway was also probably inevitable. Roma's club president Thomas DiBenedetto is also a member of the Fenway group.
Roma will definitely provide better opposition than Toronto FC, having finished seventh in Serie A last season.
Fenway Park, being the home of the Boston Red Sox, is also not well-suited to hosting soccer. They have aligned the field to run from the third-base line out toward right field. The seats behind home plate and in the right field corner (nosebleeds, anyway) will be rather far from the pitch.
Fenway Park is also celebrating its 100th birthday this year, having opened within days of the Titanic sinking.
Site: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD
Date: July 28, 2012
Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
The final game of the North American tour is also the one that presents the most familiar opponent. Tottenham finished fourth in the Premier League last term and only missed out on a Champions League place because Chelsea won the title and will be allowed to defend it.
Spurs, though, are in a bit of turmoil due to the recent departure of manager Harry Redknapp. The club is still without a manager and may suffer a bit because of the uncertainty heading into a new season.
Of the three arenas on this tour, it is the one that's shaped properly, as the home of the NFL's Baltimore Ravens.
The only question is whether there will be any American football lines on the field. One would hope not, as the Ravens will have just barely started training camp when this match is played.