Arsenal to play in MLS All-Star Game
Plenty of starpower will be making its way to the United States this summer for Copa America Centenario, but that's not where the parade of high-profile guests ends.
MLS is going back to the Premier League for its All-Star Game opponent, with Arsenal set to take on MLS's best at San Jose's Avaya Stadium on July 28. The league announced the Premier League title chaser as this year's guest team at a ceremony at Avaya Stadium, where Arsenal will become the fifth London-based club take on MLS's All-Stars (Fulham, 2005; Chelsea, 2006, 2012; West Ham, 2008; Tottenham, 2015).
In addition to the veteran internationals on Arsenal's roster such as Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud, the club could have U.S. midfielder Gedion Zelalem in tow for the match, with Zelalem's loan to Rangers in Scotland expiring at the end of this season. He played for Arsenal the last time the Gunners came to the U.S. for a summer tour, appearing at Red Bull Arena in a friendly against the New York Red Bulls in 2014.
Arsenal has a couple of direct front-office ties to MLS. Its CEO, Ivan Gazidis, was the former deputy commissioner of MLS before departing for the Premier League side in 2008. Its majority owner, Stan Kroenke, also owns MLS's Colorado Rapids. Of course, Arsenal's all-time leading scorer, Thierry Henry, finished his career in MLS, playing for the New York Red Bulls.
That trip was Arsenal's first to the United States in 25 years. Stateside Gunners fans won't have to wait nearly that long to see their team again, and Arsenal will also be taking on Liga MX's Chivas de Guadalajara in a friendly at StubHub Center on July 31.
"We have tremendous support across America and enjoyed our visit to New York in the summer of 2014 when we played the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena. We look forward to giving our U.S. fans the chance to see the team play live,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said in a club statement.
MLS is 8-3-1 in 12 "MLS vs." All-Star games, with the one draw ending with a loss in penalty kicks to Everton. The wins have come against Chivas Guadalajara, Fulham, Chelsea (twice), Celtic, West Ham, Bayern Munich and Tottenham, while the losses have come against Manchester United (twice) and Roma.
The 2016 All-Star Game will be the second played in San Jose, with the first, a 6-6 draw in an East vs. West format, taking place at Spartan Stadium in 2001.