One week after being shut out of hosting matches in the men’s World Cup in 2026, the D.C. region will receive a nice consolation prize.
Major League Soccer plans to bring its All-Star game next year back to the nation’s capital, the league announced on Thursday.
The 2023 MLS All-Star game will be played at D.C.’s Audi Field, the home of the District’s two soccer clubs — D.C. United and the Washington Spirit.
“There was really very little question that we’re going to bring an All-Star game to Audi Field,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said at a press conference. “I can’t wait to see what this is going to be next summer in July of 2023. Well earned, well deserved. It’s a great honor for us to have our All-Star game here next summer.”
D.C. last hosted the MLS All-Star game in 2002 and 2004 at RFK Stadium. Major League Baseball was the last sports league to hold its All-Star festivities in the District, in 2018.
Garber confirmed that the festivities will include a skills competition, a new staple of All-Star week, and community events around the District.
The game pits the stars of MLS against an international side. An opponent for the 2023 edition of the game will be announced at a later date.
While Garber did not give specifics on how D.C. was awarded the showcase event, he thanked D.C. United’s ownership and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, who was in attendance, for the creation of Audi Field. The 20,000-seat venue opened in 2018 but the team had multiple proposals for its own stadium dating back to 2004.
“We committed to them early on: Build a stadium and we will deliver you one of our premier events,” Garber said. “The MLS All Star Game is one of those great events.”
Bowser was a D.C. Council member when the city approved developing the stadium in the Buzzard Point neighborhood in 2014, calling it her last piece of legislation before running for mayor. Once elected, she filed for eminent domain in 2015 to take control of the site to help the team construct its new home.
Reliving the stadium deal, Bower said that the city had a “wonderful conversation” on why soccer needed a permanent home in the District. Since D.C. United had delivered on and off the field, it was time for the District to deliver for them, the mayor said.
Since opening in 2018, Audi Field has hosted many professional soccer matches, international friendlies, the Premier Lacrosse League championship game, and college football games in partnership with Howard University. United’s President of Business Operations Danita Johnson said now it will host “the biggest party in MLS: All Star 2023.”
“I am looking forward to the All-Star game, All-Star week, and everything that we can do together to promote sport, show off our city, get more people excited and engaged,” Bowser said.
All D.C. United season ticket holders will receive a priority pre-sale ticket access. The game will be streamed on Apple TV as part of the league’s 10-year deal with the streaming service. Additional broadcast details will be announced on a later date.
Major League Soccer’s second marquee event has shifted formats multiple times. After years of playing traditional All-Star matchups — East vs. West or USA vs. the World — the league began organizing games against club teams from around the world. MLS All-Stars have played against the U.S. men’s national team, English Premier League side Chelsea and Spain’s Real Madrid.
In 2021, the MLS All-Stars took on an all-star team from the Mexican soccer league, Liga MX, in Los Angeles. This year, MLS will face off a Liga MX All-Star team again in St. Paul, Minnesota, on Aug. 10.
The awarding of the All-Star game comes after a combined bid between the District and Baltimore, Maryland, failed to secure matches for the World Cup hosted in the United States, Canada and Mexico in 2026. FIFA, soccer’s governing body, said it would talk to city officials about possibly hosting a fan fest during the tournament.
This article was written by WTOP, to read more stories like this click here.
Photo: Audi Field in Southwest D.C., opened in 2018 and is the home of MLS side D.C. United. (Courtesy DC United)