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Harry back in the US

The trip to America brings back happy memories for Harry Redknapp - and the manager is expecting a real test from three matches in the States.

The trip to America brings back happy memories for Harry Redknapp - and the manager is expecting a real test from three matches in the States.

The squad touched down in San Francisco at 5pm local time on Wednesday before making the short trip to San Jose, our base for the first part of the training camp.

Harry travelled to the USA to play for and then coach Seattle Sounders in the North American Soccer League in 1976.

It was boom time for the NASL as 'soccer' started to take off in a country devoted to American Football, baseball, basketball and ice hockey.

Some of the world's biggest names were there including the likes of Pele, Franz Beckenbauer, George Best, Eusabio, Carlos Alberto and Johan Cruyff and attendances were huge with the New York Cosmos attracting over 70,000 fans.

"I have great memories of playing for Seattle and I was privileged to play alongside the likes of Geoff Hurst and Mike England," said Harry.

"I was also regularly coming up against some of the best players the game has ever seen.

"In fact, I remember when the Sounders played in the 1977 Soccer Bowl in Portland against the Cosmos in what was Pele's last competitive match. Fantastic memories."

The NASL dream eventually faded in 1984 but soccer is on a high again in the States.

Major League Soccer (MLS) kicked-off in 1996 and is flourishing with new 'franchises' like the re-born Seattle Sounders pulling in attendances of over 36,000.

The US national team has also performed well in World Cups - reaching the last 16 in South Africa before losing out to Ghana.

As part of our training camp, we take on two established MLS sides including our club partners San Jose Earthquakes and then the New York Red Bulls (originally Metro Stars) as we fly across the country to take part in the Barclays New York Challenge. We also face Sporting Lisbon in New York.

"Pre-season matches are so important in preparation for the start of the season in August," added Harry, who was pleased with our pre-season opener, a 4-0 win at Bournemouth on Saturday.

"To be playing the likes of San Jose Earthquakes, the New York Red Bulls and Sporting Lisbon will be a good test for the squad.

"It's the club's first visit to the US since 2003 and it promises to be a great experience for all of us."

We kick-off our match schedule in the US against the Earthquakes in San Jose on Saturday, kick-off 1pm local time (9pm UK).

We then face New York Red Bulls in the Barclays New York Challenge on on Thursday week, July 22, kick-off 8pm local time (1am July 23, UK time) and then Sporting Lisbon on Sunday week, July 25, kick-off 1pm local time (6pm UK time).