Atlanta to host 2018 MLS All-Star Game
By Frank Pingue
(Reuters) - Atlanta United's Mercedes-Benz Stadium will host the 2018 Major League Soccer All-Star Game, MLS Commissioner Don Garber announced on Monday.
Garber, speaking at a news conference inside the stadium along with United owner Arthur Blank, did not name a date for the summer showcase but said the opponents would be world class.
The MLS All-Star Game has long featured a team with the North American league's best players against high-profile clubs from Europe, with European champions Real Madrid having played in this year's match in Chicago.
Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain are among the candidates under consideration, according to multiple media reports.
Previous All-Star Game opponents include Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Bayern Munich.
In addition to the game, Atlanta will host nearly a week of events surrounding the exhibition, including concerts, community service initiatives, player appearances and an additional showcase match featuring the league's best young players.
Atlanta have been one of the biggest success stories of the season, having broken the MLS match and season attendance records in their final regular-season game on Sunday in their first year in the league.
The club, which share their home with the National Football League's Atlanta Falcons, became the third expansion team and first since Seattle in 2009, to qualify for the playoffs in their first season in the league.
Garber called the team's launch the most impressive and successful in the history of professional sport.
"Atlanta United's success is one of the most compelling and impressive expansion team launches in the history of pro sports, and a testament to Arthur Blank’s vision and leadership, and the tremendous team that he has built both on and off the field," said Garber.
"Atlanta and its supporters have earned the opportunity to host MLS All-Star week and showcase their passion for the beautiful game."
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Ken Ferris)