Matlock Town are giving local football fans a unique opportunity of watching North American Soccer League opponents face the Gladiators in a glamour friendly at the Reynolds Stadium.
Subject to final clearance by the relevant football authorities, Matlock will host Minnesota United on Monday, March 10, as part of the Americans’ preparations for their forthcoming season which gets under way on Friday, April 4.
As Gladiators chief executive Keith Brown explained, the prestige game also highlights the close relationship being formed between the Gladiators and Championship side Derby County.
He said: “I attended a meeting at Derby last week and through their association with America via their owners, Derby have asked us to host this game with Minnesota United and we are absolutely delighted to do so.
“It is fantastic that Derby have offered Matlock the opportunity to stage the fixture and we really appreciate the efforts of the Derby officials and in particular their Chief Executive Sam Rush, who has enjoyed previous visits to Matlock Town.
“We hope all of our supporters and people from the surrounding area come down to what promises to be an entertaining night’s football and to see an American side in action, particularly in World Cup year.”
Minnesota, who finished fourth in their division last season, begin their pre-season programme in their homeland with a trip to David Beckham’s former club LA Galaxy and another unnamed club before they come to England on March 8.
Their last game will see them take Derby on March 17 with a possible fixture against another Evo-Stik League side in between the outings with the Gladiators and the Rams.
Minnesota’s head coach, Manny Lagos, a member of the USA’s Olympic squad in 1992, is looking forward to the schedule.
He told his club’s website: “I think this is an outstanding pre-season to prepare the club for the 2014 campaign. I think we’ve put together two trips that will be both challenging and get us up to speed to start the season.”
Matlock boss Mark Atkins was equally enthusiastic about the game.
He added: “It’s great for everyone and our fans and local people should enjoy it. It’s not every day you get to see a top American side and we look forward to a good attendance. I also think it’s brilliant that they’re coming here to play us and we’re all looking forward to it immensely.”
Further details relating to the game will be announced by the Gladiators in due course.