By Graham Hill
VILLA have announced they will be returning to the USA for a pre-season friendly in July.
Dean Smith’s side will play MLS side Minnesota United at Allianz Field on Wednesday, July 17, with a 7pm kck-off local time.The game is taking place at the end of a Stateside pre-season training camp ahead of the 2019/20 season.
Villa say they want to reach out to fans ‘all over the world’ and, where possible, by playing matches.
That is a hint that owners Nassef Sawiris and the American Wes Edens want to expand the club worldwide in the same way that other clubs of a similar stature have done.
And getting back to the Premier League would be a huge boost if they want to spread the club’s name to America and Asia.
Villa revealed Smith has already flown out to Minnesota to take a close look at the facilities for what will be his first pre-season as head coach.
A statement also says the game is a ‘commercial opportunity’ to fly the flag for Villa and the city of Birmingham in the United States.
It is not the first time Villa have spent some of their pre-season in the USA.
Twenty years ago John Gregory’s team, took part in the Gotham Cup in New Jersey where they played Ajax and Fiorentina in the Giants Stadium.
In 2007, then owner Randy Lerner arranged a pre-season trip to the States to face Toronto FC and Columbus Crew.
And in 2012, the new boss of Villa, Paul Lambert, led Villa across the pond for game with Philadelphia Union, Chicago Fire and Portland Timbers.