ATLANTA – An MLS All-Star game featuring the league’s top players taking on the best from Mexico’s top flight could happen “very soon”, according to Liga MX president Enrique Bonilla.
Bonilla spoke to reporters here before Wednesday’s All-Star game between MLS and Italian titan Juventus, which he attended as the guest of MLS commissioner Don Garber.
North America’s two most prominent leagues announced a partnership earlier this year that would “fuel the rivalry” between them and “further strengthen the sport in the region”, according to a joint press release. The alliance includes next month’s inaugural Campeones Cup between Toronto FC and Tigres, the reigning champions of each circuit. The game will be hosted by Toronto in a rematch of this year’s CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal, which TFC won over two legs.
“This is the first step of many steps that we have to make together to move forward together,” Bonilla said of the Campeones Cup. “We joined forces to bring better football and better competitions to our fans, not just friendly games.”
The MLS All-Star game, of course, is a friendly. It doesn’t count in any standings. But asked by Yahoo Sports if an MLS-Liga MX all-star game could also eventually be in the cards, Bonilla made clear that he’s in favor of the idea.
“Yes, it’s possible,” Bonilla said. “It’s not going to be an official game. But the difference is passion. We want to win [against] your stars, and your stars would like to [beat] ours. So it’s going to be like official game.”
When we might see such a contest? “Oh, I think it’s going to be very soon,” Bonilla said.
Interviewed during ESPN’s broadcast of Wednesday’s match – which Juve won on penalties after the teams tied 1-1 though 90 minutes — Garber admitted that a change in format was possible. The MLS All-Stars have faced a European club each summer since 2005, with the list of foes including global juggernauts like Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Manchester United and Real Madrid. Before that, teams representing the Eastern and Western Conferences typically did battle.
“I could see us going [back] to East and West, I could see us playing against the Mexican Liga MX All-Stars,” Garber said, adding that he also likes the current setup.
If and when it a MLS-Liga MX All-Star game happens remains to be seen. The 2019 event will take place in Orlando, according to the ProSoccerUSA.com. The Washington Post reported last year that the 2020 contest is “tentatively” slated to be hosted by Los Angeles FC. Southern California has the highest Mexican-American population in the United States.
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