Atlético Madrid will take on the MLS All-Stars in July, MLS officially confirmed today. Orlando City Stadium will host the event on July 31 — the culmination of an entire week of programming by the league in Orlando, including a concert, community service initiatives, and player appearances, as well as the annual Homegrown Game that last year featured Orlando City’s Cam Lindley. Grant Wahl of SI.com initially broke the news on April 1 but the league made it official 31 days later.
The 10-time La Liga champions Atlético are guaranteed a second-place finish this year, behind Barcelona but ahead of their cross-city rivals Real, the seventh consecutive season they’ve finished in the top three. The team will also arrive as reigning European Super Cup holders, having won the preseason showpiece event as 2017–18 Europa League winners.
“The atmosphere in Orlando will be intense and memorable when Atletico de Madrid take on the MLS All-Stars,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber in a league release. “Atletico de Madrid joins the list of the many prominent clubs in global soccer to play in our midseason showcase, and we know the passionate supporters that make up The Wall and the rest of Orlando City Stadium will provide a distinctive home-field advantage for the MLS All-Stars.”
“Atletico de Madrid are proud to participate in our first Major League Soccer All-Star Game and battle the many great players of MLS,” said club president Enrique Cerezo. “The US and Canada have always been important markets for our club and competing in the MLS All-Star Game is an excellent opportunity to connect with our fans in North America and reach out to new ones.”
The biggest name on the team sheet will likely be Atlético’s World Cup-winning French forward Antoine Griezmann, who leads the team in goals for the fifth successive year. Other stars could include goalkeeper Jan Oblak, combative forward Diego Costa, Uruguayan international defender José Giménez, and last summer’s big money signing from Monaco, midfielder Thomas Lemar.
Atlético will be the 13th different European side to take on the MLS All-Stars since the change of format in 2005 and the second from Spain following Real Madrid’s 2017 match-up in Chicago. The MLS All-Stars haven’t had a win since they beat Tottenham Hotspur in 2015, but did hold both Real Madrid and Juventus to 1–1 draws in each of the last two outings, only to lose in penalty shootouts.
Four players have previously represented Orlando City at the All-Star Game: Kaká on three occasions — two as captain — and Cyle Larin, Dom Dwyer and Yoshimar Yotún all once apiece. As is tradition, Orlando City Head Coach James O’Connor will likely take on head coaching duties for the All-Stars as host for 2019. The All-Stars will be selected via a mix of public voting, head coach selections, and commissioner picks. Voting usually opens towards the end of May.
All Orlando City SC season-ticket members receive priority presale access for tickets to the 2019 MLS All-Star Game, with presale beginning on Friday, May 3. Tickets go on sale to the general public beginning May 9.