Who will be 2014 All-Star Game opponent? Merritt Paulson drops hints on "biggest global name"

PORTLAND, Ore. – Whatever club is the one that ends up facing the MLS All-Stars in the 2014 All-Star Game at JELD-WEN Field, it’s going to be a big one.

That was Timbers owner Merritt Paulson’s promise at Wednesday’s press conference to announce the match.

“We’re going to make sure we’ve got the biggest global name, opponent, that’s ever played in Portland,” he said.

So who could that possibly be? The Rose City has hosted big-name clubs for exhibition matches in the past, including Ajax, Valencia, Club América, Boca Juniors and Aston Villa.

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But Paulson playfully hinted that the club and league are in advanced negotiations with one team in particular, and one whose identity is immediately recognizable and far bigger than those previous guests.

Could he give a hint at least as to their country of origin? “No, it would be too obvious if I did,” he giggled to reporters following the press conference. “There’s two [big] ones in Spain though, right? Neither Real Madrid nor Barça would be a bad gets. Maybe it’s not Spain with that in mind.”

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When asked if the fact that the Portland area is also the US homes to adidas and Nike – kit manufacturers of the biggest clubs in the world – might help identify that team, Paulson kept the intrigue going.

“That very well might be the case,” he smiled. “That probably wouldn’t be a bad guess.”

Although Paulson said he hopes an announcement on the 2014 opponent would come soon, there were several factors to consider that are significant parts of the negotiations, especially given the fact that the game’s yet-to-be announced date will be soon after the conclusion of next summer’s World Cup.

“We’ve got to get the dates and availabilities,” he said, “but my understanding is that we’re fairly close.”

Jonah Freedman is the managing editor of MLSsoccer.com.