PHILADELPHIA – The 2012 MLS all-star game was awarded Tuesday to the Philadelphia Union, who will host the annual event July 25 at PPL Park.
The opponent has yet to be determined, though MLS Commissioner Don Garber said that an answer should come in the next two months.
“We have nothing specific yet,” Garber said after a news conference at Philadelphia City Hall. “We’re hoping to have something soon, within 60 days. That’s the plan.”
Garber appeared at the news conference with Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz, Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter and Chester, Pa., mayor John Linder.
Last year’s game was held at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J., and featured top MLS players taking on Manchester United.
PPL Park is located in nearby Chester, along the Delaware River.
In their two seasons of existence, the Union have been among the league leaders in attendance. That factor, along with the soccer-specific stadium and rabid interest by the “Sons of Ben” supporters group, played into the league’s decision.
“It’s a passionate franchise with passionate fans and one of the greatest small stadiums around,” Garber said. “We think the franchise and the stadium are deserving of this event, and we believe this is going to be an incredible event not only for the fans here, but fans watching all over the world.”
The game will be broadcast on ESPN2, Galavision or Telefutura, and in Canada on TSN and RDS. ESPN International will make the game available in more than 130 countries. In addition, the game will be streamed online, and on ESPN3 and WatchESPN in the United States.
The Union averaged more than 19,000 fans per game in their inaugural season in 2010, and last year, attendance at PPL Park reached 99 per cent capacity for regular-season games.
“Without the great fans, this wouldn’t be possible,” Sakiewicz said. “They’re the reason we got started. They’re the reason we’re here announcing this event. I think this will be a tremendous reward for the fans as well as the region. It’s going to be an incredibly memorable day at PPL Park.”
Manchester United defeated the MLS All-Star team, 4-0, in last year’s event.
“I’m anxious to find out the opponent like everybody else,” Sakiewicz said. “You know what, from where we were four years ago, when we didn’t even have a stadium, to where we are now, this is amazing. I think the fans are going to be rewarded in a big way.
It’s going to be one heck of a party.”