Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber made it official today — the 2019 MLS All-Star Game is coming to Orlando. As first reported by ProSoccerUSA’s Jordan Culver and Alicia DelGallo way back on Aug. 1, Major League Soccer’s All-Star Game will be held at Orlando City Stadium in 2019. The announcement was made at a press conference at the stadium this morning.
Garber said the opponent for next year’s All-Star Game will remain a secret for now and that the date of the event will be announced later. The game will be broadcast on FOX, Univision, TSN and TVA in more than 170 countries worldwide.
“One of the things we always knew would be an important part of our experience here was to take this team, this purple branding, the great stadium, and showcase it to the world,” Garber said about the formal announcement. “Ownership said to us, ‘When are we going to get our All-Star Game?’ And then I’d see the mayor and he’d say, ‘When are we going to get our All-Star Game?’ And we kept on working to find the perfect time — a time that wasn’t just about getting it done, but a time that assured that the team was ready, the stadium was ready, the city was ready, and the fans really had some hunger for getting behind our league.”
“Five years ago I joined this amazing club and we made some commitments. I took three of those to share with you today,” Orlando City Owner Flavio Augusto da Silva said. “Number one was to be awarded an MLS franchise. The second was to deliver a soccer-specific stadium. The third was to bring great events for the city. Today is a very special day when the city was to have the privilege to have the All-Star Game.”
The event is something that the league promised Orlando City back in 2015. Per the Culver/DelGallo story:
Holding next year’s All-Star event in Orlando makes good on a contractual promise the league made to Orlando City when the club joined MLS in 2015. Orlando City officials always said a top priority after building a new stadium was to host the annual game. When Orlando City Stadium opened at the beginning of the 2017 season, MLS commissioner Don Garber reiterated the league’s pledge to bring an All-Star Game to the city.
“We’re so excited that Orlando has been selected to host the 2019 MLS All-Star Game,” Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said via video. “Commissioner Garber, when we cut the ribbon to open this stadium, I said it was the perfect venue for a future MLS All-Star Game. So I’m so glad that you were listening. Hosting the All-Star Game would be more proof that Orlando has become the nation’s premier sports destination. We can’t wait to show off our community’s passion for soccer and continue to show that Orlando would excel as a World Cup host in 2026.”
“Everything that is happening today is for you,” said da Silva, looking directly into the camera at the event and addressing the club’s fans. “We will do the best All-Star Game ever.”
It will be the second time the city of Orlando has hosted the event. The 1998 MLS All-Star Game was hosted by the Citrus Bowl — now known as Camping World Stadium. The MLS USA All-Stars beat the MLS World All-Stars, 6-1, in a match that included former standouts such as Brian McBride and Alexi Lalas.
Orlando City Stadium itself has already hosted numerous significant soccer events since opening in March of 2017, including the 2018 SheBelieves Cup, the 2017 NWSL championship, the 2017 NCAA Women’s College Cup, and last October’s USMNT World Cup qualifier in the Hexagonal against Panama. These events were successful and brought some attention to how well the city embraces soccer. The city of Orlando has also made efforts to be a host site for the 2026 World Cup in the unified bid won by the U.S., Mexico, and Canada.
All-Star Week will likely remain a five-day event, including concerts, meetings, press events, activities to benefit the community, and other events, such as the MLS Homegrown Game.
Ethan Smith also contributed to this report.