SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Major League Soccer announced today that Arsenal FC would be the opponent for the league's summer showcase, the 2016 MLS All-Star Game at Avaya Stadium in San Jose on July 28. Arsenal, 13-time champions of the top flight of English soccer, will make their Bay Area visit as part of a broader North American summer tour ahead of the start of the 2016-17 Barclay's Premier League season.
MLS, which is set to kick off its 21st season in March, has held an all-star game each year, with the current format of taking on an international club team in place since 2005. Other well-known MLS All-Star Game opponents in the past include Chelsea, Manchester United, AS Roma, CD Guadalajara, and Bayern Munich. In last year's game, the MLS All-Stars defeated Arsenal's North London rival Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Colorado.
San Jose, home to two-time MLS Cup champions San Jose Earthquakes, has hosted the summer classic on one other occasion. Back in 2001, Spartan Stadium was the location for the all-star game when the league pitted its Eastern Conference best against those of the Western Conference. In a match that featured six goals by each side, future U.S. men's national team legend Landon Donovan scored four goals en route to earning MVP honors on the day.
Avaya Stadium, the Earthquakes soccer-specific facility in San Jose, plays host to the 2016 MLS All-Star Game. The 18,000 seat stadium features some of the best views in MLS and has seen a consecutive series of sell-out crowds since it opened its gates ahead of the 2015 season. The Earthquakes hosted Manchester United at Avaya Stadium last summer as part of the 2015 Guinness International Champions Cup.
The 2016 MLS All-Star game is expected to be one of the hottest tickets in Bay Area sports this summer, as Avaya Stadium has an official capacity of 18,000 seats. The possibility exists that additional seating may be constructed for the game, but with over 12,000 season ticket holders for the Earthquakes already, there won't be too many tickets available on the open market. The annual all-star game has become the signature event on the MLS calendar and numerous supporters and sponsors from across North America will be in attendance.
MLS, with 20 teams split into two 10-team conferences, builds its roster for the All-Star game through a combination of fan balloting, coaches picks, and commissioner selections. Arsenal legend Thierry Henry played in four straight All-Star Games between 2011 and 2014 when he was a member of the New York Red Bulls. Household names in international soccer, such as Michael Bradley, Sebastien Giovinco, Robbie Keane, and Kaka, are candidates to make the roster this summer.
The All-Star Game, which will be played on July 28, will be broadcast live on television in the U.S. by ESPN. Additionally, Univision, TSN, and the RDS family of networks will broadcast the game domestically and abroad, and MLS' international broadcast partners will beam the game worldwide to over 100 countries.