America, Atlas, Cruz Azul and Toluca-four of Mexico's strongest professional soccer teams-will showcase their talent at the opening games of the 2001 Copa Sears Pre-Libertadores qualifier championship. The five-city, ten-game Copa Sears starts on Wednesday, July 25 at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles.
In an evening that promises to be one of the most exciting in this summer's futbol schedule, Toluca, the soccer powerhouse of Mexico's professional league, will face Atlas, a young team filled with talent, in the first game, scheduled for 7:00 p.m. The match between America, one of the most popular teams south of the border, and 2001 Copa Sears winner and Copa Libertadores de America finalist, Cruz Azul, will follow at 9:00 p.m.
"The games between Toluca and Atlas and America and Cruz Azul will give futbol fans of all ages an unforgettable evening," commented Jorge Ramos, Copa Sears Pre-Libertadores 2001 spokesperson. "My attention will be on last year's winner, Cruz Azul, especially after its exceptional performance at the Copa Libertadores."
Aside from being the first matches of the 2001 Copa Sears tournament, the Los Angeles games are top match-ups in the regular Mexican league season. In the hard-fought summer '99 season championship, Toluca emerged victorious against Atlas; America and Cruz Azul constantly competed to be Mexico's top team.
The Copa Sears Pre-Libertadores 2001 remaining matches will be played in Dallas, Chicago, San Jose and Houston between July and September, 2001. As in the 2000 tournament, Sears will partner with Soccer in the Streets (SITS), an organization that has established children's soccer leagues in more than 75 culturally-diverse cities in the U.S. Together with SITS, Sears will bring back the Equipos del Futuro ("Teams of the Future"), children from local soccer leagues. The Equipos children will enjoy the Sears Soccer Experience, an interactive game area assembled next to the stadiums, prior to the matches and will serve as ballboys/ballgirls during the games.
To showcase the excitement of the Copa Sears Pre-Libertadores Tournament, Sears launched an integrated marketing campaign that includes in-store promotions, giveaways, visits to the stadiums by the Sears Fiesta Mobile, and local sweepstakes.
The tournament is a CFA (Cardenas/Fernandez & Associates, Inc.) production in conjunction with the Mexican Soccer Federation and Terject.