Soccer: Top European teams to meet Sunday at Heinz Field

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The start of the English Premier League season is a little less than a month away, but, if Manchester City's 4-1 victory against Major League Soccer's Sporting Kansas City Wednesday night is an indication, the team is hoping to continue riding the momentum built from its title last season.

Manchester City's win against Sporting KC kicked off the English team's American summer tour. Its next stop is Sunday in Pittsburgh against Italy's AC Milan in the International Champion's Cup.

Manchester City's visit comes at a high point in the team's history. It has won two of the past three English Premier League trophies and won the 2011 FA Cup just before that.

Now, Manchester City is one of the elite clubs in England, but that wasn't always the case.

The team fell as far as the third tier of English soccer as recently as 1998, before bouncing back and returning to the Premier League in 2002.

A group of Middle Eastern investors purchased the club in 2008, bringing an influx of cash that immediately made Manchester City one of the wealthiest teams in England.

The 2011 FA Cup win marked Manchester City's first major trophy since claiming the League Cup (a much less prestigious trophy) in 1976.

The next season, the club earned its first top-flight title since 1968 and did so in dramatic fashion.

On the final day of that season, Manchester City trailed the Queens Park Rangers, 2-1, heading into stoppage time. It needed a win to claim the title, while a loss would give it to hated rivals Manchester United.

Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero each scored in stoppage time and sent Etihad Stadium, the club's home grounds, into a frenzy.

Both are still on the team, but only Dzeko will be at Heinz Field Sunday as Aguero rests after Argentina's run to the World Cup final.

Manchester City claimed the Premier League title again in May, and that trophy will be on display Sunday before the game at the team's pregame party at Rivertowne North Shore.

Manchester City's opponent, AC Milan, meanwhile, is arguably Italy's most successful club, but is going through a bit of a fallow period.

Milan claimed its record 18th Serie A title in 2011, and finished second and third the next two seasons. This past season, though, Milan dipped to eighth in Serie A, the club's worst finish since coming in 10th in 1998.

Milan made a change at manager this offseason, hiring former player Flippo Inzaghi. He played for AC Milan from 2001-12 and in three World Cups for Italy, most recently on the team that won it all in 2006.

Inzaghi made his debut on the Milan sideline earlier this month in a pair of 2-0 wins in Italy against lower-level teams.

His squad kicked off its International Champions Cup Thursday with a 3-0 loss to Greek side Olympiacos before a crowd of 10,603 in Toronto.

Looking ahead

■ What: Manchester City vs. AC Milan, International Champion's Cup.

■ When: 4 p.m. Sunday.

■ Where: Heinz Field

Sam Werner: swerner@post-gazette.com and Twitter @SWernerPG.


First Published July 24, 2014 8:00 PM

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