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Borussia Dortmund, Benfica set for Pittsburgh leg of US visit

Borussia Dortmund, Benfica set for Pittsburgh leg of US visit

We’ll see the return of International soccer to Heinz Field with the very interesting match-up of two storied European clubs, Borussia Dortmund (Germany) and Benfica (Portugal), on Wednesday, July 25 as part of the International Champions Cup tournament.

Kickoff is slated for 8 p.m.

This is the second time in the past four years that the International Champions Cup has come to Pittsburgh, and this time, each club brings with them an American player, Christian Pulisic (Dortmund) and Keaton Parks (Benfica) who have developed and risen through the ranks during their time in Europe with these clubs.

Leading up to the game, there will be plenty of activities going on — as it appears that Dortmund have already laid out a pretty busy playing and promotional schedule.

After a weekend schedule that has the German club playing in Chicago on Friday, where they beat the English Premier League champs, Manchester City, 1-0, then in Charlotte against Liverpool on Sunday (ESPN, 4 p.m.), Dortmund will arrive in Pittsburgh early Monday.

German 2014 World Cup hero Mario Götze scored the lone goal, which was set up by Pulisic getting fouled in the box.

Dortmund will be setting up training at Heinz Field, while Benfica will setting up shop over at UPMC Sports Performance complex on the South Side.

Benfica made their way to Pittsburgh on Sunday.

Players from Dortmund will be taking part in ‘meet ‘n greet’ festivities both at Carnegie Science Center on Monday, and at Highmark Stadium on Tuesday.

Selected players from both teams will also be making other visits in and around the area both Monday and Tuesday, including selected players visiting Children’s Hospital.

We’ll have coverage of some of these festivities and of course at the game on Wednesday night from Heinz Field.

Two of USMNT’s Young Guns

Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund)

Christian Pulisic, a Hershey, PA born midfielder who has emerged at the United States’ most prominent young player, will return to his home state with his German club, Dortmund, in the City where his father, Mark, now makes a living coaching the Riverhounds.

Pulisic’s rise to prominence has been well documented and covered. It wasn’t too far from Pittsburgh, when he made his USMNT debut as the youngest player to do so as a 17-years, 193 days in a World Cup qualifier in Columbus in March 2016.

RELATED: Veterans lead USMNT to 4-0 win in World Cup qualifier

But there’s another young American who’s found success climbing the ranks in Europe that we’ll get a look at this week in Pittsburgh too.

Christian Pulisic, a Hershey, PA born midfielder who has emerged at the United States’ most prominent young player, will return to his home state with his German club, Dortmund, in the City where his father, Mark, now makes a living coaching the Riverhounds.

Pulisic’s rise to prominence has been well documented and covered. It wasn’t too far from Pittsburgh, when he made his USMNT debut as the youngest player to do so as a 17-years, 193 days in a World Cup qualifier in Columbus in March 2016.

RELATED: Veterans lead USMNT to 4-0 win in World Cup qualifier

But there’s another young American who’s found success climbing the ranks in Europe that we’ll get a look at this week in Pittsburgh too.

Keaton Parks (US Soccer) 

While Pulisic developed as a young player in Germany, Keaton Parks, a Plano, Texas native, made the move to Portugal after a three-year high school career and also playing with NPSL’s Liverpool Warriors.

It was when he went with the Warriors on trip to Portugul, Parks was scouted by Portugese club Varzim, and signed with them, even after numerous offers to play collegiately.

After two years with Varzim, Parks joined Benfica in 2017, and has since signed on to play with Portugal’s most celebrate club through 2022. The 20-year old midfielder has featured primarily with Benfica’s B team, but has made three league appearances for the senior club, and is trying to work his way onto the primary team roster for the 2018-19 season. Parks has also featured for the USMNT U-21 and most recently for the senior team.

 

About Borussia Dortmund

Image result for about borussia dortmund

The storied German club was founded in 1909 and is one of the most successful clubs in Bundesliga history. 

Dortumund currently sits fourth in the Bundesliga standings as it’s been a bit of a rougher than usual campaign for the one club that usually one of the primary contenders against stalwarts Bayern Munich for supremacy in Germany.

Dortmund last won its league title in 2012, won the German Cup in 2017 — and is a one-time winner of the UEFA Champions League (1997) –and finished as runner-up in a memorable Champions League final vs Bayern Munich in 2013.

After Peter Bosz’ reign ended, Peter Stoger was brought in to bring some stability. But the Austrian coach currently has his club hanging on to fourth place, and a spot in the Champions League, by a thread.

The club has its share of superstar players beside Pulisic — namely 2014 World Cup hero Mario Götze. Additional notable big names for Dortmund include Marco ReusShinji KagawaAndré SchürrleRoman Bürki and goalkeeper Marcel Schmelzer.

Ironically, Dortmund’s biggest rival is also a club that’s been doing some cross promotions with Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC in the past two years, Shalke 04.

RELATED: Dortmund-Benfica early preview podcast & interviews with Dortmund officials

 

About Benfica

The top club in Primeira Liga, the top flight of the Portuguese football league and regular UEFA Champions League contestant, Benfica are the current Portuguese champions, having won four consecutive league titles and are easily the most decorated pro club from Portugal.

This season however, they’ve been challenged at the top by it’s two rivals at the top of the Primeira Liga table – Porto and Sporting.

In addition to Parkes, among the top players for Benfica include Brazilian Jonas Gonçalves Oliveira — or better known simply as Jonas who has 33 goals in league play this season.

Other notables include Mexican Raúl Jiménez, Brazilian veteran Luisão and Pizzi. 

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This will be the third International match played at Heinz Field between European clubs.

In 2004, Chelsea FC and Roma AS played to a 0-0 draw, and in 2014, Manchester City drubbed AC Milan, 5-1.

 

John Krysinsky has covered soccer and other sports for many years for various publications and media outlets including Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, DK Pittsburgh Sports, Pittsburgh Sports Report, has served as color commentator on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC broadcasts, and worked with OPTA Stats and broadcast teams for US Open Cup and International Champions Cup matches held in the United States. Krysinsky also served as the Head Men’s Soccer Coach at his alma mater, Point Park University, where he led the Pioneers to the first-ever winning seasons and playoff berths (1996-98); head coach of North Catholic boys (2007-08), associate head coach of Shady Side Academy boys (2009-2014).

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