MLS All-Star Game a World Cup showcase
This week’s AT&T Major League Soccer All-Star Game in Portland will be a World Cup curtain call of sorts for the league.
Nine members of the U.S. team for the World Cup in Brazil are participating in the Wednesday showcase at Providence Park, home of the Portland Timbers. Eight of the players are MLS All-Stars, while one — 19-year-old Julian Green — plays for that night’s opponent, German League champion Bayern Munich. The U.S. team players will be recognized in a brief ceremony before the match.
The home of the Portland Timbers is playing host to the event.
The All-Star Game, which will be televised on ESPN2, UniMas and TSN, is sold out — hardly a surprise, considering the success of the host team. The Timbers have sold out 62 consecutive home matches, dating to their first MLS match in 2011. The club has 15,000 full-season ticket holders and a waiting list of 10,000. Capacity at Providence Park is 20,814.
“We never had to worry about selling tickets because this market sells out every game,” said Jen Maurillo, MLS vice president of special events. “We were able to focus on perfecting the programming of All-Star Week in Portland.”
The city’s downtown Pioneer Courthouse Square, nicknamed “Portland’s living room,” is the site of many of the events. The MLS Experience, featuring fan activities, autograph sessions and music, continues with daily events through Wednesday. The Monday session is capped by a soccer discussion at 9 p.m. hosted by Men in Blazers, the duo (Roger Bennett and Michael Davies) from the Grantland website who broke through on television with their regular appearances during ESPN’s coverage of the World Cup.
Monday also features the Chipotle Homegrown Game, pitting MLS’s top homegrown players from the United States against the Timbers’ U23 team. Tickets to the match, at Providence Park, are free.
Following the Tuesday afternoon training sessions of the MLS All-Stars and Bayern Munich at Providence Park, MLS Works, the league’s charitable arm, and ESPN are hosting a match featuring Special Olympians from North America and Germany. Like the training sessions, the Special Olympics match is open to the public.
The popular band Cold War Kids plays a free concert at Pioneer Courthouse Square on Tuesday night.
In addition to match title sponsor AT&T, among the league sponsors activating around the All-Star events are Volkswagen, Adidas, Budweiser, Xbox, Microsoft and Wells Fargo.
“What you’ll see from our corporate partners throughout AT&T MLS All-Star Week is incredibly powerful and showcases their sophisticated approach,” said David Wright, MLS senior vice president of global sponsorship. “An event like this is about maximizing partner value and for them to be a part of the conversation in a true and meaningful way.”
On game day, the league and the Timbers will host what’s being billed as a March to the Match. Fans are encouraged to join supporters groups in the three-quarters of a mile walk from Pioneer Courthouse Square to the All-Star Game at Providence Park. Along the way will be activation spaces by local businesses, free food from restaurants, soccer street teams and musicians.
“We have such a beautiful, walkable city, so we wanted to capitalize on that and make the events a celebration of Portland and soccer,” said Mike Golub, Timbers president of business operations. “Our All-Star Week is inclusive and accessible.”