The 2004 Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game will be an East-West affair, Major League Soccer announced Thursday. The game, which will take place on July 31 at 2 p.m. ET in Washington, D.C., will pit the best of the Eastern Conference against the best of the Western Conference and will be preceded by a match between a reunion of 1994 World Cup stars against a team of former MLS internationals.
MLS also announced Thursday that on Sept. 21, a squad of MLS All-Stars will travel to Madrid to take on Spanish power Real Madrid for the 25th annual Santiago Bernabeu Trophy.
"We are looking forward to the first true celebration of Major League Soccer's past, present and future stars on July 31 at the Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game," said MLS commissioner Don Garber. "At the same time we are also pleased to secure another high-profile international match for the MLS All-Stars in what is sure to be a unique and memorable event in the League's history when the team faces Real Madrid in Spain on September 21. Participating in the two events on separate continents 45 days apart allows the League to achieve both of our All-Star goals: celebrating the rapid evolution and development of American soccer during the past decade as well as giving our top performers the opportunity to compete against one of the world's elite soccer clubs."
This year's All-Star Game will be the first inter-conference face-off since 2001. In 2002, a single MLS All-Star team played against the U.S. men's national team, while in 2003, the MLS All-Stars played Mexican club Chivas.
This year's event will be the second time in three years that RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. has hosted the MLS All-Star Game, the first being a matchup between the MLS stars and U.S. national team.
One of the conditions of FIFA's decision to make the USA the host of the 1994 World Cup was that a first division professional soccer league would be created in the United States. That promise was fulfilled in 1996 when MLS began play, and this year's All-Star festivities are a celebration of what Garber on Thursday referred to as the "trailblazing spirit of those who wore the U.S. jersey in 1994 and started the modern soccer boom in the U.S."
Such U.S. and MLS stars as Alexi Lalas, Marcelo Balboa and Eric Wynalda will join past international greats like Mauricio Cienfuegos and Marco Etcheverry, as well as international stars of the present who are not selected to the MLS All-Star Game, to celebrate that spirit and the league's history.
The league's elite players will continue their duty as MLS All-Stars in September when they head to Spain to take on Real Madrid. The Santiago Bernabeu Trophy, named for a legendary former club president who is also the namesake for the club's stadium, is traditionally the final international event on Real Madrid's calendar prior to the start of their domestic campaign. Such world powerhouses as Ajax Amsterdam, Liverpool, AC Milan and Benfica have participated in the event in the past.
Fans can vote online for the MLS All-Stars through July 5. Starters will be announced on July 6 and reserves will be announced on July 9.
The 2004 Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game offers six levels of ticket pricing, ranging from $25 to $60 for individuals, and $10 to $60 for groups of 20 or more. For group sales and season ticket package information call D.C. United at (202) 587-5000; or go online at www.dcunited.com and at RFK Stadium advance sales during all D.C. United home games. For individual tickets call TicketMaster at (202) 432 - SEAT (metropolitan D.C.); (410) 481 - SEAT (Baltimore & Maryland); (703) 573 - SEAT (Virginia); or go online at www.ticketmaster.com and at all TicketMaster outlets including HECHT's, Tower Records and at RFK Stadium.
On July 30-31, Pepsi and MLS will host numerous family oriented events, activities and tournaments at RFK and around the Washington, D.C. area. The 2004 Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game is the main attraction of a weekend extravaganza of soccer-themed events and programs. In addition to local retail programs, the event will also feature an All-Star version of grassroots youth soccer programs.
"Once again we are proud to be a part of Major League Soccer's celebration of the sport in America," said John Galloway, director of sports marketing, Pepsi-Cola North America. "The event and its location provide us another opportunity to showcase the greatness of soccer with some of the best players in the world and other legends of the game making the Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game a truly spectacular event."
During the live telecast of the 2004 Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game on ABC, Sierra Mist will award one lucky viewer a spot as a contestant in the Pepsi "Play For A Billion" Sweepstakes. The winning sweepstakes code will be announced live during the Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game and the person with the winning number will travel to Los Angeles, Calif. in September to appear on the televised one-hour prime-time special and compete for a chance to win the $1 billion prize. One of the "Play For A Billion" contestants is guaranteed to win $1 million.
"Sierra Mist continues to show an unwavering commitment to the sport of soccer in America," said Garber. "The PepsiCo group has been a driving force behind the League's success since its inception. The Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game is a key element of a unique and extensive sponsorship program which has enhanced the game for MLS fans nationwide."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.