Trek across pond worthwhile

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:26 AM ET

SEATTLE -- For Everton, coming to North America has become a tradition.

It's a trek the English Premier League side will probably continue to make as long as things keep going well.

"With the success we've had lately, I'm certainly not superstitious, but you begin to think it certainly does help your preparation," said Everton manager David Moyes. "We didn't start the season very well last year, but we ended up having a great season.

"We've always enjoyed coming to America and Canada in this case. We feel we can train the players a couple of times a day and then enjoy some relaxation time. All in all, it's worked out very well for us."

Everton arrived in Seattle earlier this week and set up preseason training camp at an impressive soccer complex on the south side of the city.

On Saturday, the team will fly to Edmonton to take on Argentine side River Plate in an exhibition match (7:30 p.m.) at Commonwealth Stadium. Everton will then face the MLS All-stars Thursday in Utah before returning to England.

"For me the big part of this is just getting the players together, get living with each other, working with each other," Moyes said. "It's a chance to get away from the fans, so they can concentrate solely on the work."

Everton has never travelled to Edmonton and has never played River Plate.

The team is looking forward to the opportunity to do both.

"I think everybody knows Edmonton, and that it's one of the biggest cities in Canada even though it's a little out on its own," Moyes said. "We know it's a good football city and I think the Canadians do know their football with a lot of ex-pats from England and Scotland living there now. I think this is a good chance for the people from Edmonton to come out and see a couple of good teams."

This is the fifth time in the last six seasons that Everton has come to North America on a preseason tour.

It's been the trend for a number of high-profile European teams in the past decade.

"I don't like leaving my family behind, but if you're going to tour, then the best place to tour is America," said Everton captain Philip Neville. "I've done the Asia tour, which was very difficult. The thing about coming to America is that you can walk around. You can even walk around in your Everton kit (uniform) and nobody will bother you.

"So that takes the pressure off you, whereas in England you can't really do that. That's the beauty of coming to America, you can have loads of down time. Back home, for nine months of the year, you are under scrutiny, under the microscope, so it'll be nice to switch off."


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