MLS All-Star Game

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MLS All-Star opponent is Atletico Madrid for Orlando game

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Atletico Madrid will be the opponent in this summer’s Major League Soccer All-Star Game in Orlando, Florida.

The 10-time La Liga champions are the second team from the Spanish league to play in the showcase after Real Madrid in 2017 in Chicago.

This year’s game is July 31 at Orlando City Stadium.

The game traditionally pits the league’s top players against international clubs and the domestic league is 8-4-3 in the game. Foreign clubs use the game to prepare for their seasons and expand North American fan bases.

Last year, the MLS All-Stars played to a 1-1 draw with Juventus in Atlanta.

“Every MLS All-Star game is a fantastic opportunity,” said Dom Dwyer, forward for host Orlando City. “I think it’s a real enjoyable event. I’ve gotten to play against Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, teams I’ve dreamed of playing against.”

Atletico sits behind leader Barcelona in the Spanish league. The club features forward Antoine Griezmann, who was on France’s World Cup-winning team in Russia. He has 15 goals and nine assists this season.

The All-Star Game will likely reunite Griezmann and LAFC’s Carlos Vela – both played for Real Sociedad. Vela leads MLS with 11 goals in 10 games this season.

“It’s going to be nice to play against the best players in MLS,” Griezmann said. “The league continues to improve every year. I (could) even see myself playing there in the future. It’s a league that I like and it will be nice for us to play them.”

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Report: Atletico Madrid to play MLS All-Star Game

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If Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Wayne Rooney thought their days of playing against European powers were over, they’ve got another thing coming according to Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl.

Assuming they don’t skip the occasion, of course.

[ MORE: PL midweek storylines ]

Atletico Madrid will come to Orlando for the 2019 MLS All-Star Game in July as part of its United States tour, which also features a meeting with Chivas Guadalajara in Texas and a Madrid Derby against Real in New Jersey.

The last six All Star Games occurred July 28 or later.

Presumably, Rooney and Ibrahimovic will be reunited in the MLS side, and fellow former Manchester United player Nani will likely also get the call given his current home stadia.

The format is unchanged despite calls for something fresh, as the last two matches were particularly dull 1-1 draws decided in penalty kicks (Real Madrid and Juventus won).

MLS All Star Game headed to Orlando, format unchanged

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The Major League Soccer All Star Game is headed to Orlando City in 2019, the second time the game has been staged in the Theme Park Capital of the World.

A release from MLSSoccer.com says the game will again pit the MLS All Stars against a “renowned international club.”

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Our guess would be a club with significant Brazilian ties to match its ownership and longtime star Kaka, who retired after last season.

Could it be Paris Saint-Germain, who is yet to be an opponent in what commissioner Don Garber has called “the most important special event” that MLS has on its calendar?

Other big name clubs which have yet to oppose the All Stars and have Brazilian stars are Barcelona, Liverpool, and Manchester City.

Juventus wins MLS All-Star Game in PKs

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The MLS All Star Game couldn’t be decided over 90 minutes in Atlanta, and Bradley Wright-Phillips missed the lone penalty kick as Juventus ran out winners.

Juventus opened the scoring off a set piece, with Andrea Favilli nodding home in the 21st minute.

Josef Martinez leveled score on a goofy play which found Juve goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny all over the place.

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Martinez knocked a cross down to Carlos Vela, whose shot was parried by Szczesny. The goalkeeper couldn’t find his feet to track the loose ball, and Ignacio Piatti headed the ball back across the six.

Martinez got his head to it for 1-1 (video below).

The final 15 minutes saw the teams angling for a winner, with Diego Valeri denied by Mehdi Benatia goal line clearance and Juve’s Leandro Fernandes sending an arrow just over the bar.

History of MLS All Star Game
1996: East 3-2 West
1997: East 5-4 West
1998: USA 6-1 World
1999: East 4-6 West
2000: East 9-4 West
2001: East 6-6 West
2002: MLS 3-2 USMNT
2003: MLS 3-1 Chivas Guadalajara
2004: East 3-2 West
2005: MLS 4-1 Fulham
2006: MLS 1-0 Chelsea
2007: MLS 2-0 Celtic
2008: MLS 3-2 West Ham United
2009: MLS 1-1 Everton (Everton wins in PKs)
2010: MLS 2-5 Manchester United
2011: MLS 0-4 Manchester United
2012: MLS 3-2 Chelsea
2013: MLS 1-3 AS Roma
2014: MLS 2-1 Bayern Munich
2015: MLS 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur
2016: MLS 1-2 Arsenal
2017: MLS 1-1 (2-4 PKs) Real Madrid
2018: MLS 1-1 (3-5 PKs) Juventus

MLS eager to show off Atlanta success story at All-Star Game

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ATLANTA (AP) The MLS All-Star Game is more than the league showing off its best players against Italian powerhouse Juventus.

It’s a chance to flaunt one of its biggest success stories.

The A-T-L.

Atlanta United has shattered just about every MLS attendance record since joining the league in 2017 , which made it a natural choice to host the All-Star Game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Another mark could fall in Wednesday night’s match, expected to lure upwards of 70,000 fans to this technological marvel of a stadium.

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“That’s why the game is here,” said United defender Michael Parkhurst, one of five players from league-leading Atlanta picked for the MLS team. “It’s to showcase the city itself, the stadium, the atmosphere that we create here. It’s special.”

Indeed, there’s nothing unusual about drawing such a mammoth soccer crowd in Atlanta.

In its debut season, United shattered the league record by averaging 48,200 per game – more than doubling all but three other teams in MLS. The club is projected to go even higher this season, averaging nearly 52,000 through its first dozen home matches.

The top five individual game crowds in MLS history have all been in Atlanta, which has eclipsed 70,000 for every regular-season match in which the upper deck has been open . The target to beat for an All-Star Game is 70,728, which was the record turnout for the 2010 match at Houston’s NFL stadium.

If the weather forecast holds – there was a strong chance of thunderstorms – the camera lens-resembling roof will be closed to ensure a comfortable setting for both the players and the big crowd.

Too bad.

The complex structure only recently began operating properly, allowing it to open or close in less than 10 minutes .

Every other aspect of the $1.5 billion stadium has drawn rave reviews, setting it up to be one of the leading venues for the 2026 World Cup that will be largely hosted by the United States. The winning bid, which also includes Mexico and Canada, calls for six games to be held in Atlanta – including a semifinal.

The stadium has already developed quite a reputation in MLS, with its chanting, flag-waving fans showing off their passion while giving United a huge home-field edge.

“It’s surprising,” New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips said before a workout Tuesday at the stadium. “I heard a lot of talk before they came into the league about how it was going to be. I wasn’t sure, but playing here and watching them on TV, the support these players have is amazing.”

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Since the current All-Star Game format was adopted in 2005, pitting a team of MLS stars against a prominent club from Europe, the American-based league holds a 7-6 edge.

Of course, this game means a lot more to MLS than it does to the opponent.

Juventus, which is riding a streak of seven straight titles in Serie A, is merely tuning up for a league season than begins in less than two weeks. The Italian club already played two exhibitions in the U.S. as part of the International Champions Cup – beating Germany’s Bayern Munich and Portugal’s Benfica – and has one more friendly Saturday against Real Madrid before returning to Europe.

Juventus didn’t bring along five-time FIFA Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo, acquired from Real Madrid a few weeks ago in a record transfer deal for a player older than 30.

Still recovering from the World Cup, Ronaldo remained in Italy to train, along with new teammates Gonzalo Higuain, Juan Cuadrado, Mario Mandzukic and Paulo Dybala.

Manager Massimiliano Allegri is confident that his squad is ready to make another title run in Serie A.

“There isn’t much to do,” he said through a translator. “We have the defenders. We have the midfielders. It’s just a matter of deciding who are the two or three in front who are basically going to put the ball in the goal.”

The MLS team also will be missing one of its top players – LA Galaxy star Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who ranks second in the league with 15 goals.

The 36-year-old Swede chose to not to make the cross-country trip to Atlanta after playing three league matches over a nine-day span, saying he was more focused on leading his streaking team to the playoffs. Under league rules, he’ll also have to skip the Galaxy’s next match against Colorado on Saturday.

Commissioner Don Garber told reporters he was “disappointed” that Ibrahimovic would skip “the most important special event that the league has.”

Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963 . His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/paul%20newberry

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