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World Football Challenge

World Football Challenge

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Click photo to enlargeInter Milan players chase a ball during a training session in Los Angeles on July 13, 2009.

Inter Milan will play their first game against Club America in San Francisco on July 19.

(Credit MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)�1�Related StoriesJul 16:Sports digest: Beckham makes a quiet return to MLSAndres Chitiva probably never will achieve the fame of Club America's giants such as Cuauht�moc Blanco.And that's OK.

The Colombian left wing knows what he needs to do for the storied soccer team: "The mentality of Club America is to win all of its games and tournaments," Chitiva said, through an interpreter, during a telephone interview.And that includes the inaugural World Football Challenge, which opens Sunday at Stanford with America facing FC Internazionale Milano, or Inter Milan.

The one-week tournament brings four of the world's best soccer teams, including England's Chelsea and AC Milan, Inter's crosstown rival in Italy's Serie A, to the United States for a six-city round-robin exhibition.The opener at Stanford probably will be overshadowed by David Beckham's return to the Los Angeles Galaxy, which is scheduled to play an exhibition Sunday night against AC Milan, the team from which Beckham just returned after a loan spell.

It will be difficult to top the fireworks of Beckham's reunion with the Galaxy's Landon Donovan, who called the English star a bad teammate in the new book "The Beckham Experiment."Still, the World Football Challenge represents one of the summer highlights for Bay Area soccer fans.

It started with a CONCACAF Gold Cup match featuring Mexico at the Oakland Coliseum, and will culminate Aug.

8 at AT&T Park with Barcelona facing Club Deportivo Guadalajara, affectionately known as AdvertisementChivas, in a doubleheader involving the Earthquakes and the Columbus Crew.Chitiva, 29, and his las Aguilas teammates will use the World Football Challenge to fine-tune their play just ahead of the Mexican League first division summer/fall tournament known as the apertura.

The club Mexican fans either love or hate has suffered recently, judging by its last-place finish in the most recent campaign.Chitiva, though, didn't hesitate late last year when Mexico's richest club courted him after six productive seasons with Pachuca."I feel indebted because I always had the dream of playing on a team like America," he said.Colombian defender Aquivaldo Mosquera reunited with Chitiva this month after leading Pachuca to recent domestic titles.

America Coach Jesus "Chucho" Ramirez expects the newcomers to meld with Mexican stars Guillermo Ochoa and Pavel Pardo to form a well-balanced squad.

Chitiva, who had just returned from Cancun, where America trained, says it is difficult to compare Pachuca with his new team.

It starts with Club America's famous home, Estadio Azteca.

In Pachuca's stadium, "it is a different feeling than Estadio Azteca," Chitiva said.

"It's always like an extra motivation here."Club America won't have all its stars at Stanford because of commitments to the Mexican national team, which is struggling to qualify for the 2010 World Cup.

Ismael Rodriguez, Juan Venezuela, Israel Martinez and goalkeeper Ochoa are training for Mexico's showdown against the United States on Aug.

8 at Estadio Azteca.

But Pardo, one of the country's best midfielders, expects to play in the World Football Challenge.

It doesn't matter to Chitiva who is wearing America's canary yellow uniforms.

The attacking midfielder said his club won't take the exhibitions lightly, even if they ultimately are meaningless.

"It's a chance to show everyone that Mexican football is at a great level," Chitiva said.Contact Elliott Almond at 408-920-5865.

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