MCG, Docklands to host IC17 Grand Finals

Every footballer dreams of playing on the big stage. 

When the USA Revolution and Freedom national teams go to Australia in August, they’ll get their chance to play on the two biggest stages in the game.

The AFL announced Wednesday night (US Time) that the 2017 International Cup finals will each be the first game of doubleheaders with Round 22 AFL matches in Melbourne.  The men’s Grand Final will be held prior to the Collingwood-Geelong match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, followed by the women’s Grand Final, which will be staged prior to the Carlton-Hawthorn encounter crosstown at Etihad Stadium.

“We are so pleased to have secured both the MCG and Etihad Stadium to conclude this year’s International Cup,” said AFL Head of Community and International Development Grant Williams in the league’s release.

Held every three years since 2002, the men’s Grand Final has been held at the ‘G in each of the tournament’s five incarnations.   IC17 will be the third time the women’s division has been contested.  The inaugural finale took place at Royal Park.  Three years later, the match was moved to Punt Road Oval, headquarters of the Richmond Football Club.  The move to Etihad coincides with the successful first season of the AFL Women’s competition.

The AFL’s release also confirmed the match dates for the tournament.  IC17 launches with the opening ceremony on August 5th, with the opening round of matches taking place the next day and round two being played three days later.  Round Three, the traditional community round, is on Saturday, August 12th.  The opening finals round happens on Tuesday the 15th, with the classification and divisional Grand Finals happening on Friday the 18th.

Per a tweet from the official International Cup Twitter account, ball up for the Men’s Grand Final is scheduled for approximately 11:20am local time that Saturday (9:20pm EDT / 6:20pm PDT Friday night) ahead of Magpies-Cats at 2:10pm.  The Women’s Grand Final at Etihad is tentatively scheduled for 4:35pm (2:35am EDT Saturday / 11:35pm PDT Friday), followed by Blues-Hawks.

The final list of teams and the match schedule is expected to be announced in July.  Last year, eighteen nationals contested the men’s competition, while seven teams from five countries comprised the women’s division. 

Tom Ellis and the Revolution look to improve upon the 8th place showing achieved in 2014, while Leigh Barnes’s Freedom finished in third in each of their two International Cup appearances.  The USA Liberty, the women’s development squad, will also be making the trip to Melbourne and will be playing matches against local footy clubs concurrent with the tournament.

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