Foot Culture

The MLS All-Star Game


Five Bleu-blanc-noir players invited since 2012
A purely North American tradition, the All-Star Games are the perfect moments to forget competition and just revel in the athletes’ undeniable and immense talent. Since its inception in 1996, a couple of formats for this meeting starring the league’s best players have been used by MLS: East against West, USA against the world, the stars against the USMNT but since 2005, the opponents come from Europe, and more often than not, from the UK. MLS has thus, over the years, beaten some impressive clubs, like Chelsea (twice), Celtic Glasgow, Tottenham and Bayern Munich, losing out to Manchester United, Arsenal and AS Roma.
East against West – 1996 and 1997, 1999 to 2001
The good old format: the best players from a conference play against those from the other side. Carlos Valderrama and his legendary mop won the MVP award for the first two editions of this gala match, in 1996 and 1997; also worthy of a mention, the 2000 All-Star Game ended 9-4, the attacking fest we have come to expect in games like this being won by the East.
USA against the world – 1998
If today, this game might be interesting – or not, if we take into account the amount and the quality of foreign players nowadays in MLS –, in 1998, it was not the best of ideas: the Americans won 6-1 in a landslide.
All-Stars against guest – 2002-2003 and 2005 to now
Starting in humble ways, this concept really exploded as the league grew. The very first game in this setup pitted the All-Stars against the USMNT, a game finishing 3-2 in favour of MLS. All in all, the North American stars hold a record of nine wins and five losses.
And what about Impact players?
Some Bleu-blanc-noir players have worn the MLS’ star-studded uniform since the club joined the big league: Marco Di Vaio and Patrice Bernier earned a call-up in 2013 to face AS Roma; Laurent Ciman went to the All-Star Game twice, in 2015 and in 2016, playing against both North London clubs, Tottenham and Arsenal; Nacho Piatti went to San Jose for the game against Arsenal last year, and will travel to Chicago next week for Real Madrid’s visit; finally, Didier Drogba was the only Impact goal scorer in an All-Star Game, finding the back of the net against – obviously – Arsenal, beating his former teammate Petr Cech.