NEW YORK – MLS Commissioner Don Garber says the league is seekingto secure the participation of a major international club for the 2011 AT&TMLS All-Star Game with the name of the team to be announced in the next 30days.
“It will be of the caliber of clubs we’ve playedin the past,” Garber said on a media teleconference call on Tuesday. “It will be a major,major international opponent. We’re in very productive negotiations with a numberof teams and we should be able to finalize it earlier than we have in thepast.”
The league will be maintaining the format of recent years, inwhich an MLS All-Star squad will face a high-profile international opponent. TheMLS All-Stars have locked horns with the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea in recentyears.
Soccer United Marketing, the commercial arm of Major League Soccer, representsLa Liga leaders FC Barcelona and legendary Mexican club Chivas de Guadalajara inthe United States.
The Commissioner indicated that these internationalpowerhouses look at the All-Star Game as an opportunity to build their brand inthe United States and overseas, with the event attracting a large televisionaudience which has surpassed 100 countries around the world.
And the All-Star Game will only be the tip of the iceberg asfar as the international matches that the league and its clubs will host thissummer, according to the Commissioner.
“We are in discussions with a number of international clubs about bringinghandful of these major clubs to the USA this summer,” he said. “We’ll continue to dothat both as part of the All-Star Game and as part of the international matchesthat we’ve held for so many years.”
New York Red Bulls Designated Player Thierry Henry, who will be eligible to play in his first All-Star Game in 2011, says the event would take on an even greater importance for him if it came against his old clubs Arsenal or Barcelona.
“It would be pretty special,” he said. “I think they are thetwo teams that play the best football right now in the world. That would be agreat thing. If one of the two teams is involved, it would be amazing. It’s a game that is very important for us to show that wecan compete with the great teams of Europe.”