MLS followed through on its commitment to host a high-profile showdown between MLS and Liga MX All-Stars, announcing the 2021 MLS All-Star Game at LAFC’s Banc of California Stadium on Aug. 25.
After last season’s All-Star Game between the two sides was canceled due to the pandemic, MLS commissioner Don Garber said it was always the league’s intention to bring the matchup back for this year in Los Angeles.
“As we have been working for so long to develop this really powerful, really valuable and really important partnership with Liga MX, we thought the best way to show the best of soccer in this part of the world was to get our best players together and play in the MLS All-Star Game,” Garber said in a press conference announcing the event.
The 2021 MLS All-Star Game will be the first time that the MLS All-Stars meet a team of All-Stars from a different league. The MLS All-Stars have played European clubs in every All-Star Game dating back to 2005 and last faced Atlético Madrid in 2019 in Orlando. The only time the MLS All-Stars faced a Mexican side was in 2003 against Chivas Guadalajara.
The announcement further strengthens a growing bond between MLS and Liga MX as the leagues try to access a broader market across the border. Broadcasted in the U.S. on Univision, Liga MX’s Clausura Final between Cruz Azul and Santos last month averaged three million viewers, making it the most-watched club soccer broadcast in the U.S. on any single network since December 2013.
“We learn so much from Liga MX,” Garber said. “This is the league that has been developing the game and been such a popular league driving this sport globally for so many years.
“And over the years we’ve been working together to try to bring our two leagues together and do things that will be beneficial for the sport to take this region and make it one of the most powerful in the world.”
Along with potential meetings in Concacaf Champions League, the leagues introduced the Campeones Cup between league champions in 2018 and, a year later, launched the Leagues Cup, a 16-team tournament that now features eight teams from each league.
The MLS team, coached by LAFC manager Bob Bradley, could feature Mexican stars Carlos Vela of LAFC and Chicharito of the LA Galaxy in their home market, where full-capacity crowds will be allowed starting June 15.
However, with the game coming less than a week before FIFA’s September international break, there are concerns that the league’s biggest names may not all be available for the All-Star Game as national teams may be reluctant to have players participate in an exhibition before World Cup qualifiers.
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