HOUSTON - JULY 20: Kevin Davies #14 of the Bolton Wanderers celebrates with teammate Lee Chung-Yong #27 after scoring in the second half against the Houston Dynamo at Robertson Stadium on July 20, 2011 in Houston, Texas. Bolton won 2-0. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bolton Wanderers tend to leave announcements like this pretty late but this year, they're leaving it later than usual. The club has more pressing matters this season that includes a little thing known as Premier League survival. Sources in and around the club have told us that a summer pre-season tour of the United States is being worked on but the more pressing matters come first. For comparison, last year's friendlies were announced on April 18, 2011.
For the last two years, Bolton have made their way stateside to play teams in the American soccer pyramid. In both previous instances, they've played two lower league teams before finishing off the tour with a Major League Soccer game.
In the summer of 2010, the club visited Charlotte Eagles and Charleston Battery (both then in the USL-2) before facing Toronto FC (where Bolton won the friendly on penalties).
The following year, an unprepared Bolton started the trip off with a 1-0 loss to FC Tampa Bay (NASL, the second division) in the hot Florida sun. A few days later, Bolton beat a tired Orlando City (USL Pro, the third division) 3-1 with Kevin Davies, Darren Pratley, and Martin Petrov getting on the scoresheet. The final game was a 2-0 win against Stuart Holden's old club, Houston Dynamo, with Ivan Klasnic and Kevin Davies scoring.
Following the Houston match, Kevin Davies explained one of the benefits of the trip to us:
Q: This is a different atmosphere than what you're used to playing in. With the heat and humidity, how did it feel out there?
A: It's tough. Orlando was tough and coming here it seemed even warmer. It's difficult to work in but the manager feels we can benefit from the work we put in here and take it back to benefit the start of our season.
Owen Coyle has echoed Davies' praise of MLS, saying himself:
I watch the games every week and I think the league itself and teams are getting better every year. I've always said that I feel that in the not too distant future the US will have a major say in the World Cup because of how the game's progressing at both the grassroots and professional level with MLS. It's a terrific league filled with fantastic players and great young players coming into the teams.