From July 16 until July 23, one of the most interesting preseason tournaments prior to the 2022/2023 season will take place in Orlando, Las Vegas and Charlotte. Previously known as the Florida Cup, the multi-city tournament expanded and changed name to FC Series, and will include elite-level teams, such as Chelsea and Arsenal, who will be joined by Club América, Orlando City and Charlotte FC. There are several venues included in the FC Series: Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, and Exploria Stadium and Camping World Stadium in Orlando, with the marquee matchup being Chelsea vs Arsenal on July 23. This will be the first opportunity many in the States get to see their favorite stars up close, and will be the European teams’ chance to get ready ahead of a demanding season, since América, Charlotte and Orlando are already playing their domestic campaigns. 

The tournament will kick off on July 16 with the matchup between Chelsea and América at 7:00 p.m. local time, in the Las Vegas Raiders’ brand-new Allegiant Stadium. With the backdrop of the Las Vegas strip and the sound of slot machines and Vegas nightlife, the former European champions will take on one of Mexico’s most popular clubs. Even though América has already started play in Liga MX, they will travel to the U.S. with a full squad, including Guillermo Ochoa, Diego Valdés and the trio of new signings in Néstor Araujo, Jurgen Damm and Jonathan Rodríguez. As for Chelsea, it could be the first opportunity we get to see Raheem Sterling wearing a Blue jersey or even Nathan Aké’s return home. 

Then, a Wednesday night doubleheader on July 20 between Orlando City and Arsenal in Exploria Stadium, and simultaneously between Charlotte FC and Chelsea in Charlotte. This will be Orlando City and Charlotte FC’s only matches during the tournament, and with both teams on the edge of the Major League Soccer Eastern Conference playoffs, it could be the best chance both team’s fans get to watch their club play high level soccer this year. Three days after that, Chelsea and Arsenal face off in the Florida Cup - the official name for the final match of the FC Series -, which will take place at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. Besides the four entertaining matches, fans will be able to treat themselves to open training sessions, a fan fest featuring famous Brazilian singer Ivete Sangalo, an all-star match, media day and a fan zone. 

Chelsea vs. Club América

Date: July 16
Location: Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas 
Time: 7:00 p.m local time (PST)
TV in the US: TUDN USA, Univision
Live Streaming: FuboTV
Tickets: Available for purchese HERE

Chelsea is in a state of change. After former owner Roman Abramovich was forced to sell the club, a consortium led by United States billionaire Todd Boehly took over the club for approximately $5.2 billion, according to numbers published by the BBC, and is now leading the Blues into a new era. Said new era is yet to fully kick off, with no new signings confirmed by the London club at the moment this article was written, even though names like Raheem Sterling, Kalidou Koulibaly and even American goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina are rumored to be arriving at Stamford Bridge shortly. 

The London-based club is entering the FC Series after a whirlwind of a season. Chelsea’s 2021/22 season started with the controversial signing of Romelu Lukaku for an excess of $110 million. The Belgian striker was supposed to be returning to the Blues for a second stint following a hugely successful season at Inter Milan, with the task of spearheading the attack of a team that had recently won the UEFA Champions League. A spectacular double against Arsenal on his second Chelsea debut seemed to indicate great moments to come, but that is nothing further from the truth. Lukaku gave a controversial interview to Sky Italia in which he declared his love for Inter Milan, the club that has now re-signed him on a loan, and never really fit into Thomas Tuchel’s starting lineup. 

However, he still managed to score against Palmeiras in the Club World Cup Final in February, which ended up being Chelsea’s only title in 2021/22. In spite of reaching the FA Cup and the EFL Cup finals, the Blues couldn’t beat Liverpool in either game and had to settle for the runners-up medal. In the Premier League, Tuchel’s side finished third, three points ahead of fourth-placed Tottenham and a far 19 points behind champions Manchester City. In the UEFA Champions League, the Blues were minutes away from eliminating eventual champions Real Madrid in the quarterfinals after a stunning display at the Santiago Bernabeú, but couldn’t retain their title. Several players that went out on loan have returned to the squad and traveled to the U.S. looking for a chance to impress, including Conor Gallagher and Billy Gilmour. 

As for their rival in Las Vegas, Club América also had a whirlwind of a 2021/22 season, which in Mexico is split into two different tournaments: the Apertura and the Clausura. América finished the regular season as the league leaders, earning a massive 35 points in 17 games. With Santiago Solari at the helm, Las Águilas entered the Liguilla playoffs with high hopes but fell against Pumas UNAM in the quarterfinals by a 3-1 aggregate score. The tournament ended with a humiliating defeat at home against their local rivals, but Solari was backed by sporting director Santiago Baños to continue as manager of one of Mexico’s most popular teams. However, things would soon change for Solari. 

In the Clausura 2022 tournament that Atlas recently won, América was bottom of the table in March, with four losses in eight games. The defensive solidity that took them to first place the previous semester seemed to have been lost, and even though important players such as Diego Valdés, Alejandro Zendejas and Jonathan dos Santos arrived in the winter transfer window, Solari lost control of the team and was fired after drawing against Querétaro. What seemed to be the club entering into disarray was the total opposite. Fernando Ortíz was appointed as interim manager, and América ended the tournament with five wins in six games, thus securing a fourth place finish. Las Águilas beat Puebla in the Liguilla playoffs quarterfinals but fell to eventual finalists Pachuca in the semifinals. Ortíz was later confirmed as full-time manager of the club, and will head into the FC Series sporting three new signings: Jurgen Damm, Néstor Araujo and Jonathan Rodríguez. 

Even though preseason matches are hard to predict, here are the team’s possible starting elevens for the Vegas match: 


Édouard Mendy; 
Reece James, Ethan Ampadu, Thiago Silva, Marcos Alonso;
Jorginho, Conor Gallagher, Harvey Vale;
Christian Pulisic, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Kai Havertz


Guillermo Ochoa;
Miguel Layún, Emilio Lara, Sebastián Cáceres, Jorge Sánchez
Pedro Aquino, Jonathan dos Santos;
Jurgen Damm, Alejandro Zendejas, Diego Valdés
Henry Martín 

Orlando City vs. Arsenal

Date: July 20 
Location: Exploria Stadium, Orlando
Time: 7:30 p.m. local time (EST)
TV: To be confirmed
Tickets: Available for purchase HERE

Orlando City entered 2022 having finished sixth in the Eastern Conference standings during the 2021 Major League Soccer season, falling in the first round of the playoffs to Nashville SC by a score of 3-1. Despite showing improvement on the pitch, the team did lose star player Nani to Serie A side Venezia FC, goalscorer Daryl Dike to West Bromwich Albion and defender Emmanuel Mas to Estudiantes de la Plata. Even though Óscar Pareja remained as the head coach, the team initially struggled to cope with the recently departed players. However, a couple of interesting signings arrived in Orlando with hopes of not only replacing, but improving the performance of those who left. The club made six signings ahead of the 2022 MLS season: César Araujo, Facundo Torres, Ercan Kara, Alex Freeman and Jake Mulraney, with Gastón González joining the club in June. 

Uruguay duo Araujo and Torres, who played for Montevideo Wanderers and Peñarol, took a little longer than Kara to settle into the club. The Austrian striker led the team in MLS goals at the time of writing this article, surpassing renowned Brazilian Alexandre Pato in the goalscoring charts. The former Rapid Wien man has already been called up to the Austrian National Team on occasions, and at only 26 years of age, promises to be a big figure in Orlando if he can maintain his sporting form. As for the rest of the side, Orlando City seems to be pretty well rounded on all fronts: Pedro Gallese in goal, Rodrigo Schlegel and Robin Jansson in the center of defense, Araujo, Júnior Urso and Mauricio Pereyra in midfield, and Kara or Pato up top. They will host Arsenal in the middle of the MLS season, playing a domestic soccer match three days before the FC Series and another three days after. 

Arsenal’s second preseason match in the U.S. will be in Exploria Stadium against Orlando City, three days ahead of the Florida Cup final against Chelsea. Mikel Arteta’s side enters preseason after a disappointing end to the 2021/22 Premier League season, in which fourth place and a UEFA Champions League spot seemed a certainty entering April, but three consecutive losses, and then another two in the final three matches, doomed the London-based club to the UEFA Europa League. Despite that, there were plenty of good spots for Arsenal, especially on the player arrival side with the signings of Ben White, Martin Odegaard and Aaaron Ramsdale spearheading a new era in North London. Furthermore, relieving some of the high wages Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was commanding despite not playing, opened up space for players who did want to sweat the red and white jersey. 

More positive points: Bukayo Saka established himself as a true leader and attacking threat, showing impressive psychological resilience by recovering from the Euro 2020 (played in 2021) final heartbreak to become one of Arsenal’s best players. The side finished fifth in the Premier League, reached the third round of the FA Cup and the semifinals of the FA Cup. Even though the results on the pitch left a sour taste in fans’ mouths after the season was over, Saka’s consistency, Eddie Nketiah’s resurgence, Ramsdale’s consistency and Arteta’s style of play bode well for next year, not to mention the new names arriving to the club, some of which will be available to enjoy in the FC Series. The Gunners have been busy during the offseason, and it all started with the signing of Marquinhos. 

Before you get too excited, it’s not the Marquinhos from Paris Saint-Germain, but a former Sao Paulo youth product that at merely 19 years of age, is most definitely a bet for the future. As for major signings for the first team, attacking midfielder Fábio Vieria arrived for approximately $35 million, according to Transfermarkt, and the transfer of American goalkeeper Matt Turner from New England Revolution was finally confirmed. The most important signing for the Gunners, however, is without a doubt that of Gabriel Jesus. The Brazilian striker is only 25 years old but already has plenty of Premier League level experience under his belt, playing over 230 matches for Manchester City in his six years at the Etihad, scoring nearly 100 goals for Pep Guardiola’s side. Jesus will strengthen Arsenal’s attacking core, which will now provide plenty of options for Arteta, such as Gabriel Martinelli, Emile Smith Rowe, Odegaard, Nketiah and Nicolas Pépé. Seeing many of these players live, in the States, will definitely be a draw for those looking for preseason plans during the summer. 

Even though preseason matches are hard to predict, here are the team’s possible starting elevens for the match in Orlando: 

Orlando City: 

Pedro Gallese;
Joao Moutinho, Rodrigo Schlegel, Robin Jansson, Kyle Smith
César Araujo, Júnior Urso, Mauricio Pereyra;
Facundo Torres, Alexandre Pato, Ercan Kara


Matt Turner;
Héctor Bellerín, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Ben White, Kieran Tierney; 
Mohamed Elneny, Albert Sambi Lokonga;
Emile Smith Rowe, Nicolas Pépé, Gabriel Martinelli; 
Gabriel Jesus 

Charlotte FC vs. Chelsea

Date: July 20
Location: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte
Time: 7:30 p.m. local time (EST)
TV: To be confirmed 
Tickets: Available for purchase HERE

If you were to look at Charlotte FC’s incoming transfers for the 2022 Major League Soccer season, you might be floored at first glance by the size of the list. However, 2022 is the club’s first-ever season, nearly three years after it was founded, which is why it had to fill its squad list starting from zero. The club’s first-ever signing was Spanish midfielder Sergio Ruíz, who spent the first 18 months of his contract on loan with Spanish second-division side Unión Deportiva Las Palmas. Ruíz had a rough beginning at the club, starting only four times in Charlotte’s first 20 matches. The going got so tough that Ruíz publicly stated his intent to return to Spanish football: “I mean it with all my heart, I wish I could return to UD Las Palmas. If there were any possibility, it would be one of my first options”, he stated to Radio MARCA. Soon after saying those words, he played two full games consecutively for Charlotte and even scored and assisted against Nashville SC in an early July match. Ruíz will now hope to catch up stats-wise to Designated Player Karol Świderski and Brazilian Andre Shinyashiki, two of the club’s best players. 

Charlotte FC’s journey in MLS began with a bang, establishing the all-time attendance-record in their first-ever home match, in March, against the Los Angeles Galaxy. 74,479 fans filled up Bank of America Stadium and topped Atlanta United’s previous attendance record of 73,019, for the 2018 MLS Cup Final against Portland Timbers. Even though attendance isn’t usually as high, the local crowd has responded and supported a team that is in the mix to qualify for the playoffs in their first-ever campaign. Funnily enough, Charlotte is battling fellow FC Series team Orlando City in the Eastern Conference standings, and will need to continue their recent form if they want to leave their mark being the new kids on the block. The recent improvement in form is directly tied to the departure of former head coach Miguel Ángel Ramírez, who was appointed the first manager in the history of the club. Ramírez was let go at the end of May due to “front office disputes,” according to The Athletic, and even though sporting reasons weren’t the cause of his departure, numbers have improved with interim manager Christian Lattanzio. 

Three of the club’s best players are Shinyashiki, who leads the goalscoring charts when this article was written, followed by Świderski and Maryland native Ben Bender, who was selected by Charlotte with the first pick of the 2022 MLS SuperDraft. It’s too soon to judge whether MLS’ newest franchise will have a successful first season, but they will soon face their toughest-ever opposition in Chelsea. Even though Charlotte will host the Blues, the scheduling actually inconvenienced them, since they will be fresh off a trip to Florida, visiting Inter Miami four days before their FC Series match. Lattanzio’s side will still relish the opportunity to test their players against some of the world’s best, and the match will undoubtedly serve as an important assessment of who boasts better shape headed into the crunch part of the MLS season. An extra spice to the matchup against Chelsea is that one of Charlotte's most experienced players is Christian Fuchs, who started ahead of current Blue player Ben Chilwell in Leicester City's Premier League title-winning team in 2016. 

Even though preseason matches are hard to predict, here are the team’s possible starting elevens for the match in Orlando: 

Charlotte FC: 

Kristijan Kahlina;
Harrison Afful, Christian Makoun, Christian Fuchs;
Brandt Bronico, Derrick Jones, Sergio Ruíz;
Kamil Jóźwiak, Karol Świderski, Yordy Reyna


Kepa Arrizabalaga;
César Azpilicueta, Trevoh Chalobah, Malang Sarr, Ben Chilwell
Billy Gilmour, Matteo Kovacic, Mason Mount
Armando Broja, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Timo Werner

Chelsea vs. Arsenal

Date: July 23
Location: Camping World Stadium, Orlando
Time: 8:00 p.m. local time (EST)
TV: To be confirmed
Tickets: Available for purchase HERE

Chelsea and Arsenal first faced off in 1907, in a League Division One match between the Blues and then-named Woolwich Arsenal, a 2-1 win for Chelsea. Nearly 115 years and 200 games between them later, they’ll face off in Orlando on July 23 with the Florida Cup in dispute. Although it might not be the most prestigious trophy in the world, the FC Series grand finale will be an important indicator to test how both teams are developing their new squads with the upcoming season nearly upon us. And, it will also serve as another chapter to the derby that has been played in five major finals, with the 2020 FA Cup Final being the most recent instance in which both clubs faced off with a trophy in dispute. More than two years later, plenty of things have changed for both clubs. 

Starting off with Chelsea, Frank Lampard was the manager on that fateful August afternoon for the Blues. Here is how they lined up and where the starting eleven currently plays: 

Willy Caballero (Plays for Southampton);
Antonio Rudiger (Real Madrid), Kurt Zouma (West Ham), César Azpilicueta, Reece James, Marcos Alonso (Chelsea);
Jorginho, Matteo Kovacic (Chelsea);
Olivier Giroud (AC Milan), Christian Pulisic, Mason Mount (Chelsea). 

In that game, Andreas Christensen (Barcelona), Tammy Abraham (Roma), Pedro Rodríguez (Lazio), Ross Barkley and Hudson-Odoi were used as substitutes, in the match that saw Arteta dominate Lampard tactically and grant Arsenal a record 14th FA Cup. 

Here’s how Arteta lined up to win his first-ever trophy as a manager, and where his players currently ply their trade: 

Emiliano Martínez (Aston Villa);
Kieran Tierney, Rob Holding, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Héctor Bellerín (Arsenal), David Luiz (Flamengo); 
Granit Xhaka (Arsenal), Dani Ceballos (Real Madrid);
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Barcelona), Alexandre Lacazette (Lyon), Nicolas Pépé (Arsenal). 

Just to show you how much things have changed for the Gunners, Saka was left on the bench as an unused substitute, Eddie Nketiah entered only in the final minutes, and Emile Smith Rowe, who was returning from a loan at Huddersfield Town, wasn’t even called up.

Now, Florida beckons. The perfect opportunity to witness Gabriel Jesus and Gabriel Martinelli take on Thiago Silva and Ben Chilwell, to possibly watch Raheem Sterling and Mason Mount combine up front against Gabriel Magalhaes and Kieran Tierney in defense, and to enjoy a derby that rarely disappoints. Available tickets might be on the pricier side, but if you are going to be in Florida and want to witness high-level soccer in the flesh, there is probably no better option for you. We are still a few days away from it happening, and with both clubs being on the rise with new signings and continuing managers, Chelsea vs. Arsenal promises to be a must-watch and even a must-attend. 

Even though preseason matches are hard to predict, here are the team’s possible starting elevens for the match in Orlando: 


Édouard Mendy;
Reece James, Thiago Silva, Malang Sarr, Ben Chilwell; 
Jorginho, Conor Gallagher, Billy Gilmour; 
Mason Mount, Christian Pulisic, Kai Havertz


Aaron Ramsdale; 
Kieran Tierney, Gabriel Magalhaes, Pablo Marí, Cedric Soares;
Albert Sambi Lokonga, Ainsley Maitland-Niles;
Gabriel Martinelli, Emile Smith Rowe, Nicolas Pépé;
Gabriel Jesus 

FC Series Fan Fest

And, for those of you who want more action than just on the football pitch, you can access the festival of football that will take place from July 16-23, including an all-star game with legends from both teams, open training sessions, and a concert from Brazilian superstar Ivete Sangalo on the 17th at 9:00 p.m in Universal Studios Florida. For more information on FC Series and all of its events, click HERE.