Major League Soccer’s All-Star Week Coming to Washington

July 17, 2023 by Carter Schaffer
Major League Soccer’s All-Star Week Coming to Washington
Randy Clarke, Angie Gates, Mayor Muriel Bowser, Danita Johnson and Elliott Ferguson pose with MLS All-Star gear at Audi Field on Wednesday in celebration of the upcoming MLS All-Star week. (Photo by Carter Shaffer)

WASHINGTON — The annual Major League Soccer All-Star game is coming to Audi Field in Southwest D.C. on Wednesday, July 19, with a team of the league’s best taking on Arsenal F.C. of the English Premier League.

As part of the festivities, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden will host a youth soccer clinic Monday evening in conjunction with Major League Soccer.

In a release, the White House said the event for children and families on the South Lawn of the White House is part of the first lady’s “continued efforts to highlight how sports unites us, and supports and empowers young people.”

The clinic will be led by many of the same MLS All-Stars who are participating in Wednesday’s game, and will feature a series of skills training stations and scrimmages for young athletes brought together by the District of Columbia’s Parks and Recreation Department.

The All-Star game has already been bringing tourists into the district, as has been evident by the many soccer jerseys seen on the National Mall and near such tourist magnets as the U.S. Capitol.

According to Events DC President and CEO Angie Gates, the game and affiliated events could bring as much as $11 million to the city.

“With the 20,000 attendees coming to Audi Field, that’s going to provide jobs and more experiences and support for our local residents and our local businesses,” Gates said in a recent press event.

“All the world will see why we call ourselves the sports capital,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser enthused last week. “We are thrilled to welcome visitors from around the globe to celebrate.”

The celebration of all things soccer kicked off Saturday at District Pier and will continue through the big event, the All-Star game itself.

Events DC, the official convention and sports authority of the district, helped orchestrate the opening-day celebration, which included both the eMLS All-Star Challenge and an All-Star Concert. 

While the district has hosted soccer All-Star games before, in 2002 and 2004, this will be the first one at Audi Field, the home of D.C. United, which opened in 2018 in Buzzard Point. The previous MLS All-Star games in D.C. were held at RFK Stadium.

On Sunday, All-Star players and volunteers came together for the MLS WORKS All-Star Day of Service. Over the course of the day, participants packed 100,000 meals to be distributed by Bread for the City, a food pantry in the district.

Audi Field makes its All-Star debut on Tuesday with the Skill Challenge. The event includes 10 players competing in five challenges to show off their various abilities: shooting, touch, cross and volley, passing and crossbar. D.C. United’s Christian Benteke will make an appearance for shooting, cross and volley and crossbar.

Matchday on Wednesday warms up with the MLS NEXT All-Star game. The free, 10:30 a.m. game at the Glenn Warner Soccer Facility at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, features 44 youth players from the MLS NEXT league, two of whom are from D.C. United’s club.

The Special Olympics Unified Sports® All-Star game follows the NEXT games. The East and West teams, built of Special Olympic athletes and Unified partners, face off in the eighth annual game at 3 p.m. at the Glenn Warner Soccer Facility.

The week of events concludes with the 2023 MLS All-Star game Wednesday night at 8 p.m. The 27th annual game sold out the 20,000-capacity Audi Field.

The 28-man MLS roster has 12 players picked through a combined fan, media and player vote, 14 picked by the MLS All-Star head coach — this year’s being D.C. United’s Head Coach Wayne Rooney — and two players picked by MLS Commissioner Don Garber. Two D.C. United players were selected by coach’s pick, forward Christian Benteke and goalkeeper Tyler Miller.

Randy Clarke, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority general manager and CEO, said there will be a bus traveling from Waterfront Station to Audi Field during the event. He also said 10,000 special Metro cards to commemorate the week were being sold at the Navy Yard, Waterfront and L’Enfant Plaza stations.

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