All-Star players ‘guaranteed’ for El Clasico Miami

It was quite an eventful week for Dolphins owner Stephen Ross. He spent last Sunday in Madrid, watching Barcelona’s thrilling 3-2 come-from-behind victory over Real Madrid in the latest edition of El Clasico.

Ross and his associates were there to get assurances from the two Spanish teams that they will bring their full rosters to Hard Rock Stadium on July 29 for “El Clasico Miami,” a rare meeting between the rivals away from Spanish soil.

More than 80 percent of the tickets have already been sold, despite the high prices.

By the end of the week, Ross was deep into the NFL Draft.

“We’re slowly but surely turning the big boss into a soccer fan,” said Charlie Stillitano, chairman of Relevant Sports, the soccer arm of Ross’ company. “If that game didn’t do it, I don’t know what would have.”

The game had it all — drama, a winning goal by Lionel Messi and Barca overtaking Real Madrid in the Spanish league standings.

“It was our little commercial they ran for us, which wasn’t a bad commercial,” Stillitano said.

He said both team presidents “committed to us 100 percent” that their best players will participate in the July game.

“Fans are paying good money for these tickets, and we want to make sure we get the full-force teams,” Stillitano said.

“They’re talking about no players missing. We have contractual obligations for the big stars. The owners said it’s not just having them there but having a really competitive game. They said, ‘We just don’t like to lose to each other.’ After [last Sunday’s] game, the Madrid people were saying, ‘Just wait, we’ll get ’em this summer.’ 

Limited tickets are available, and organizers expect they will be sold out well in advance of the match.

“We know those last few weeks, when the players get off the plane and are here, everyone will see them and get excited and those last tickets will go quickly,” Stillitano said.

The El Clasico Miami festivities will begin Wednesday night July 26 with a game between Italian giant Juventus and French power Paris Saint-Germain.

A Legends Game is in the works, which would likely be played on July 27.

There are also plans for a skills competition and an open training session.

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▪ Kaka highest paid: The Major League Soccer Players Union released its salaries last week and Orlando City’s Brazilian star Kaka tops the list with earnings of $7.168 million per year.

Sebastian Giovinco of Toronto FC is second at $7.116 million, and Toronto’s Michael Bradley is the highest-paid American at $6.5 million.

Tied at No. 4 are Giovani dos Santos (L.A. Galaxy) and Andrea Pirlo (NYCFC) at $5.92 million.

Other players of note include the Chicago Fire’s newly signed German star Bastian Schweinsteiger ($5.4 million), U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard of Colorado ($2.48 million), NYCFC Spanish star David Villa ($5.61 million), Seattle’s Clint Dempsey ($3.89 million), Toronto’s Jozy Altidore ($4.88 million) of Boca Raton and Weston native Alejandro Bedoya, who came back to MLS from the French league and makes $3.89 million with Philadelphia.

▪ U-17s topple Mexico: The U.S. Under-17 national team, which includes goalkeeper Justin Garces of Kendall and George Acosta of Hollywood, beat regional power Mexico 4-3 on Wednesday — the first time in history Team USA beat Mexico in World Cup qualifying at the U-17 level.

The victory snapped Mexico’s 25-match unbeaten streak in U-17 CONCACAF play.

That win, coupled with a 5-0 victory over Jamaica, clinched a spot in the next round of qualifying for the U-17 World Cup, to be played in India in October.

In the victory over Mexico, Josh Sargent scored two goals, and Blaine Ferri and Ayo Akinola each scored one. Garces started in goal and Acosta came off the bench.

Who’s leading

EPL: Chelsea (81), Tottenham (77), Liverpool and Manchester City (66), Manchester United (65).

La Liga: Barcelona and Real Madrid (81), Atletico Madrid (71), Sevilla (68), Villarreal (63).

Serie A: Juventus (84), Roma (75), Napoli (74), Lazio (67), Atalanta (64).

Bundesliga: Bayern Munich (73), Leipzig (63), Hoffenheim (58), Dortmund (57), Hertha (46).

Ligue 1: Monaco (83), PSG (80), Nice (77), Lyon (57), Bordeaux (56).

MLS: East — Orlando City (18), New York (16), NYCFC, Columbus and Toronto (13). West — Portland (17), K.C. and Dallas (15).

NASL: Jacksonville (9), Miami, Carolina and New York (8).