2008 Carolina Challenge Cup.

Major League Soccer returns to Charleston for a week of preseason exhibition games.

The 2008 Carolina Challenge Cup will take place at Blackbaud Stadium March 15, 19 & 22, 2008. Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls, Toronto FC and expansion MLS outfit the San Jose Earthquakes will join the USL First Division Charleston Battery for the premier annual US pre-season soccer tournament. This is the fifth consecutive year for the Carolina Challenge Cup.

“Major League Soccer is coming back for a fifth year with our annual Carolina Challenge Cup tournament,” said Charleston head coach Mike Anhaeuser. “This event is a great opportunity for our players and fans to get a taste of the upcoming season and squad. It is also a good opportunity for us to test ourselves against some of the best talent in the United States.”

All three MLS teams will spend the week in Charleston, training between the games as they prepare for the start of the MLS season.

The competition format will remain unchanged in 2008 with three matchday’s each featuring a double-header. The games will be played on Saturday (March 15) – Wednesday (March 19) – Saturday (March 22), with each team playing the other in a round-robin tournament.

2007 CCC winners the Houston Dynamo are unable to defend their title due to CONCACAF Champions Cup commitments. Remarkably each winner from the previous five Carolina Challenge Cup competitions has gone on to win either the MLS Commissioners Cup (regular season championship) or MLS cup.

New York Red Bulls

The New York Red Bulls return to the Carolina Challenge Cup for a second year. New York finished in third position in the Eastern Conference in 2007 but were bounced from the playoffs by eventual MLS Cup runner’s-up, the New England Revolution, in the Conference semifinals.

New York recently hired former Chicago Fire chief Juan Carlos Osorio as the 11th head coach in the teams13-year history. Osorio was the manager of Club Deportivo Millonarios of the Futbol Profesional Colombiano from 2006-2007. He also served as an assistant coach with Manchester City of the English Premier League from 2001-2006 and as an assistant with the New York MetroStars from 2000-2001.

The Red Bulls were one of the MLS sides to use their designated player option in 2007 signing Juan Pablo Angel; Angel had an exception year with New York scoring 19 goals and adding 5 assists in 24 games played.

Toronto FC

Despite superb attendance (15 straight sellouts) during its inaugural season Toronto struggled in 2007 and missed the playoffs finishing in 7th position in the Eastern Conference with a record of 6-17-7. Toronto returns to Charleston for a second straight Carolina Challenge Cup appearance.

U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Bob Bradley named three Toronto FC players to the training camp roster that began workouts Thursday January 3rd in California.

Defenders Marvell Wynne and Todd Dunivant, and midfielder Maurice Edu were all named to the 26-man squad that will train at The Home Depot Center in Carson in preparation for the U.S.A’s first match of 2008. The U.S. will host Sweden in a friendly at the Home Depot Center on Jan. 19.

San Jose Earthquakes

Expansion Major League Soccer side the San Jose Earthquakes return to Charleston to compete in the Carolina Challenge Cup after a three year hiatus. San Jose won the tournament in 2005 then went on to win the MLS Commissioners Cup however the Earthquakes relocated to Houston at the end of the 2005 MLS season.

The Carolina Challenge Cup games will be the ‘Quakes first competitive matches prior to their return to Major League Soccer. Former LA Galaxy head coach Frank Yallop will lead the Earthquakes in their inaugural campaign. Former Charleston Battery forward Gavin Glinton was picked by San Jose in the MLS expansion draft.

Tournament Schedule

Saturday 15-Mar San Jose vs Toronto 6:00 PM
Saturday 15-Mar New York vs Charleston 8:15 PM
Wednesday 19-Mar New York vs Toronto 6:00 PM
Wednesday 19-Mar San Jose vs Charleston 8:15 PM
Saturday 22-Mar Toronto vs Charleston 6:00 PM
Saturday 22-Mar San Jose vs New York 8:15 PM
All games played at Blackbaud Stadium, Daniel Island

Carolina Challenge Cup past participants and winners

Bold denotes tournament winner

2004

Charleston Battery (USL1)
Columbus Crew (MLS)
DC United (MLS)
Wilmington Hammerheads (USL2)

2005

Charleston Battery (USL1)
Columbus Crew (MLS)
DC United (MLS)
San Jose Earthquakes (MLS)

2006

Charleston Battery (USL1)
DC United (MLS)
Houston Dynamo (MLS)
MetroStars (MLS)

2007

Charleston Battery (USL1)
Houston Dynamo (MLS)
New York Red Bulls (MLS)
Toronto FC (MLS)

Tickets for the 2008 Carolina Challenge Cup are on sale with series packages and individual games available. For more information or group ticket inquiries call (843) 971-GOAL (4625).

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