A first-of-its-kind MLS All-Star Game is almost upon us, as the best in Major League Soccer take on Liga MX stars Wednesday evening from Banc of California Stadium (9 pm ET | FS1, Univision in US; TSN, TVA Sports in Canada).
Before we get to the unforgettable action on the field, we reveal five things to know about the MLS All-Star Game presented by Target.
From the Concacaf Champions League to Leagues Cup and now the MLS All-Star Game, there’s never been more collaboration — and competition — between the region's two largest leagues. More games mean more chances for this rivalry to grow and with those bragging rights at stake, this promises to be the most competitive All-Star Game yet.
The game also comes after big wins for the US men's national team over their Mexican counterparts this summer and ahead of the two countries meeting in World Cup Qualifying in November. Several players involved Wednesday will hope to be representing their country in that blockbuster matchup.
One of the things that makes the MLS All-Star Game special is the roster selection process. Stakeholders from across the league had a say – fans, media, head coach Bob Bradley and MLS Commissioner Don Garber – in picking the roster. Here’s a breakdown of how the 28 MLS players were selected.
- 13 players determined by a combined vote of fan, media and players
- 13 players selected by All-Star Head Coach Bob Bradley (LAFC)
- 2 players selected by MLS Commissioner Don Garber
- Players, fans and reporters cast their votes for 11 players. The top player in each position from the combined vote was named an All-Star
- The 12th and 13th players voted in were the next-highest amount of votes overall (fans, media and players)
The first 14 selections of the Liga MX roster were the winners and nominees for the Balón de Oro awards within the categories of best goalkeeper, fullback, defender, defensive midfielder, attacking midfielder, rookie and forward. Cruz Azul head coach Juan Reynoso, after being chosen as Liga MX head coach of the season, selected 11 players and Liga MX Executive President Mikel Arriola made one pick.
Cristian Roldan, one of six Seattle Sounders on the roster, was named the captain of the MLS All-Stars. The captaincy was determined through a Twitter vote, which allowed fans to lobby for Roldan, LAFC star Carlos Vela, LA Galaxy forward Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and Nashville SC defender Walker Zimmerman.
The #CaptainRoldan hashtag received the greatest volume of usage during the voting period, between both original tweets and retweets that counted toward a player's total.
The MLS All-Star Game experience is more than just 90 minutes on Wednesday night. There’s a host of activities leading up to match night, including the highly anticipated All-Star Skills Challenge presented by AT&T 5G on Tuesday (9 pm ET | FS1, TUDN in US; TSN and TVA Sports in Canada).
MLS and Liga MX rivals will compete across five different skill competitions:
- Shooting Challenge presented by AT&T 5G
- Touch Challenge presented by Old Spice
- Cross & Volley Challenge presented by AT&T 5G
- Passing Challenge presented by Crest
- Crossbar Challenge presented by Gillette
Here's who is competing, with rosters for both teams.
In addition to the Skills Competition, there’s so much surrounding the MLS All-Star Game. There are community outreach events, including Barbershop Forum — “Wealth Equity: Building Bridges to Prosperity,” MLS WORKS Day of Service presented by Wells Fargo and MLS WORKS All-Star Community Day presented by Target.
There's also the 2021 eMLS All-Star Challenge presented by McDonald’s; the Coca-Cola Beats, Cleats and Eats event; and the MLS All-Star Concert Presented by Heineken, co-headlined by Grammy-winning Haitian-Canadian producer and DJ Kaytranada, and Grammy-winning rapper, producer and songwriter Big Boi, with ticket proceeds benefitting World Central Kitchen.
Check out all of the week's activities here.