Major League Soccer will introduce a new format for the MLS All-Star Game. Instead of matchups with big European clubs, MLS will face the top stars of Liga MX at Banc of California Stadium, home of Los Angeles FC, the league announced.
The game is now set for Wednesday, August 25. "Fans have been looking forward to this historic matchup for more than a year, and we have no doubt the 2021 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target will prove to be worth the wait," said MLS's commissioner Don Garber. "A game of this magnitude in Los Angeles, played in front of incredible fans in one of the greatest soccer stadiums in global soccer, is unlike anything our sport has seen. This event is a perfect expression of the groundbreaking partnership that continues to build between MLS and LIGA MX."
This match format was originally set to debut last summer but had to be canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Atletico Madrid was the All-Star Game participant two seasons ago in Orlando, and past opponents include Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Juventus. This is not the first time the format has changed. In fact, over the years we've seen teams split up by conferences (East vs. West) and by domestic and international players (MLS USA vs. MLS World).
Facing the best of the best from Liga MX is just the latest example of the increasing relationship between the Mexican league and MLS. The two leagues have long battled in the CONCACAF Champions League, and in 2018 the league champs met in the inaugural Campeones Cup, where Tigres beat Toronto FC.
This decision makes sense for a variety of reasons, especially since Liga MX is the most popular soccer league in the United States in terms of viewership. Los Angeles is a massive Mexican and Mexican-American hub, which means it wouldn't be a shock to see a nearly packed stadium at Banc of California Stadium, depending on how they handle the fan situation. Mexican star Javier Hernandez of the LA Galaxy figures to play part as well with his hot start to the season, grabbing seven goals in seven games.