FAQ: What you need to know about the MLS All-Star Game in DC

D.C. United and MLS All-Star head coach Wayne Rooney and former Arsenal player Kieran Gibbs hold a 2023 MLS All-Star Game Scarf at Audi Field. (Courtesy MLS)

The American soccer world will begin to descend on D.C. ahead of the Major League Soccer All-Star Game that will take place at Audi Field in Southeast D.C. on July 19.

With the league’s summer tradition days away, here’s what you need to know about the friendly match, the festivities surrounding it, who’s playing (yes, we address that guy) and how you can be a part of the fun.

  • Q: What is the MLS All-Star Game?
  • The MLS All-Star Game is the league’s second marquee event of the year after the MLS Cup. The All-Star Game brings together a collection of its top players for many events, capped off by a friendly match.

    While the match does not count toward the standings or affect the playoffs, it allows the league and its players to celebrate the season’s first-half success as the second half begins.

    The game itself features the team of MLS All-Stars taking on an international club team, a format that’s been in use every year since 2002 — except in 2004, which was the last year that featured an East and West matchup.

    In the past, MLS All-Stars have played against the likes of the U.S. men’s national team (2002), English Premier League’s Chelsea (2006, 2012) and Spain’s Real Madrid (2017).

    Last year, the all-stars faced off against a Liga MX all-star team from Mexico in St. Paul, Minnesota.

    Named the 2023 host city last year, D.C. last hosted the MLS All-Star Game in 2002 and 2004 at RFK Stadium. Major League Baseball was the last sports league to hold its all-star festivities in the District in 2018, when then-National Bryce Harper won the Home Run Derby and then-National Max Scherzer was the starting pitcher for the National League.

  • Q: Who is playing in the All-Star Game?
  • The MLS All-Star team typically consists of the league’s best and most popular players. Twenty-six players are selected, with 12 players determined by the combined votes of fans, media and players.

    D.C. United head coach Wayne Rooney, who will be the all-star team’s manager, selects 12 players and MLS commissioner Don Garber will choose two others.

    You can find the MLS All-Star roster here.

  • Q: Any local players participating in the All-Star Game this year?
  • MLS has the chance to re-create the hometown drama that MLB crafted in 2018 when D.C. stars stole the All-Star Game storylines.

    D.C. United striker Christian Benteke and goalkeeper Tyler Miller were named to the all-star roster by Rooney after helping the Black-and-Red to 30 points in the first half of the season, three points more than the team scored the entire 2022 season.

    Benteke, who arrived last season as United’s designated player, has become D.C.’s primary target in attack, scoring eight goals and collecting three assists in 21 matches.

    One of those goals included an incredible bicycle kick.

    New to D.C., Miller won the starting goalkeeping job during the preseason and has proven to be an offensive weapon for Rooney in the “sweeper keeper” role. This season, Miller has 56 saves in 22 matches and six clean sheets.

  • Q: Who are the All-Stars playing against?
  • Coming off its second-place finish last season in the English Premier League, London-based side Arsenal makes its return to the D.C. region to take on the MLS All-Stars as part of its preseason tour.

    Coached by former Spanish midfielder Mikel Arteta, the Gunners feature a multitude of international stars including England’s Bukayo Saka, Italy’s Jorginho and Norway’s Martin Ødegaard.

    Arsenal is making its third appearance in the D.C. region in the last five summers, which has included a friendly against Spanish giants Real Madrid at FedEx Field in 2019 and a preseason exhibition in Baltimore last year against fellow Premiere League foe Everton.

    Arsenal revealed its traveling roster Sunday night, which also includes new signing midfielder Declan Rice.

    GOALKEEPERS (3): Aaron Ramsdale, Alex Rúnarsson, Karl Hein

    DEFENDERS (9): William Saliba, Kieran Tierney, Ben White, Gabriel Magalhães, Jurriën Timber, Jakub Kiwior, Rob Holding, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Auston Trusty

    MIDFIELDERS (11): Bukayo Saka, Martin Ødegaard, Jorginho, Fábio Vieira, Mohamed Elneny, Kai Havertz, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Declan Rice, Amario Cozier-Duberry, Emile Smith Rowe, Thomas Partey

    FORWARDS (6): Gabriel Jesus, Gabriel Martinelli, Eddie Nketiah, Leandro Trossard, Folarin Balogun, Marquinhos

  • Q: How can I get to Audi Field?
  • People who want to take Metro to Audi Field in D.C.’s Buzzard Point are encouraged to get off at Navy Yard or Waterfront on the Green Line.

    “It’s actually a really quick walk from either one,” said Metro General Manager Randy Clarke.

    Metro will also run a direct non-stop shuttle bus from Waterfront Station to Audi Field for the Skills Challenge on Tuesday, July 18 and Wednesday July 19 for the All-Star Game. The shuttle will go back and forth every 10 minutes.

    Riders can celebrate the all-star festivities with one of Metro’s 10,000 special All-Star Game SmartTrip cards, available for purchase at Navy Yard, Waterfront or L’Enfant Plaza stations.

  • Q: Will there be any parking restrictions or road closures related to the game?
  • The following streets will be posted as Emergency No Parking from Monday, July 17 at 7 p.m. through Wednesday, July 19 at 11 p.m.:

    Potomac Avenue from South Capitol Street to 1st Street, SW
    R Street from 1st Street to 2nd Street, SW
    S Street from Half Street to 1st Street, SW
    T Street from 1st Street to 2nd Street, SW
    V Street from 2nd Street to Half Street, SW
    2nd Street from Q Street to V Street, SW
    1st Street from Q Street and V Street, SW
    Half Street from Q Street to V Street, SW

    The following streets will be CLOSED to traffic on Tuesday, July 18 and Wednesday, July 19  from noon to 11:59 p.m.:

    Potomac Avenue from South Capitol Street to 2nd Street, SW
    R Street from 1st Street to 2nd Street, SW
    1st Street from Q Street and V Street, SW
    T Street from 1st Street to 2nd Street, SW
    S Street from 1st Street to Half Street, SW

    Those who need to access the Buzzard Point area can enter through 2nd Street and Q Street SW. Drivers can also move south on 2nd Street or west on Q Street from South Capitol Street SW.

    All closures are subject to change. Up-to-date traffic information will be available on the DC Police Traffic Twitter page.

  • Q: How can I still get tickets for the game?
  • If you want to go to the MLS All-Star Game, be prepared to pay.

    Tickets sold out within hours of being available to the public, and, as of publication, resell tickets available on Ticketmaster, the game’s official ticketing partner, start at around $250 and go as high as $8,500 (before taxes and fees).

    You can watch the match at home as it will be streamed on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV. New users can take advantage of a free 7-day trial before a $6.99 monthly subscription. There are no blackouts for D.C.-area users trying to watch the in-market contest.

  • Q: Will players participate in other events?
  • Those unable to go to the game can still see their favorite players compete in the All-Star Skills Challenge, scheduled to take place the day before the game on July 18 at Audi Field at 7:30 p.m.

    The MLS skills competition pits some of its all-star players against Arsenal’s in a set of minigames, like shooting and crossbar challenges.

    You can see a full list of the games and who will be competing on MLS’s website. Both Benteke and Miller of D.C. United are scheduled to play in the Skills Challenge.

    Tickets are listed as $15 on the FEVO Social events website but are sold out on Ticketmaster. WTOP has reached out to MLS and D.C. United on ticket availability.

  • Q: Will there be a fan fest area? If so, where?
  • Starting Saturday, July 15, fans can head down to the Wharf to the District Pier for Soccer Celebration. The event features special guest appearances by MLS players, musical performances, food offerings and a watch party for the weekend MLS matches.

    Soccer Celebration is a two-day activity, running on Saturday from 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. and Sunday from 3 to 9:30 p.m.

    The event will also be fans’ last chance to compete for a chance to win $25,000 in the Summer Roadshow’s Shooting Challenge.

    MLS will also host a watch party so fans can watch Saturday’s league matches live starting at 7 p.m. at the Dockmaster Building at 101 District Square SW.

    On Sunday, fans can also take part in the eMLS All-Star Challenge (760 Maine Ave. SW), where the league’s e-gamers team up with MLS players, online influencers and amateur players in a two-on-two video game tournament. Those set to play in the tournament include D.C. United’s KingCJ0, former NFL star Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson, D.C. native and rapper Wale, and notable streamer Edwin “Castro1021” Castro

    All the events at the Wharf will wrap up on Monday, July 17 with the All-Star Concert.

  • Q: Are there watch parties?
  • By WTOP’s Sandra Jones

    There’s plenty of watch parties and events to choose from no matter where you live in the D.C. area.

    Across the Pond, an Irish soccer bar, in the D.C.’s Dupont Circle’s is offering discounted draft beers and $6 bar appetizers leading up to the game.

    Over in Navy Yard, Atlas Brew Works will screen the soccer challenge on large TVs and offer draft beers for five bucks.

    Along Pennsylvania Avenue at Elephant and Castle, near the White House, $6 dollar beers and small plates of crisps and dips will be offered at the same price.

    At the Crystal City Sports Pub on 23rd street in Arlington, Virginia, you can grab a seat and root for your favorite team.

    And in Maryland, you can kick it with the Unified Sports East and West All-Star soccer teams at 3 p.m. at the Naval Academy’s Glenn Warner Soccer facility. These teams will also be recognized at the MLS All-Star game.

  • Q: Concert, you say? Who is performing? Where is it?
  • Two-time GRAMMY-nominated R&B singer Kehlani with special guest DJ Pee Wee will perform at the All-Star Concert at The Anthem Monday, June 17, starting at 7:30 p.m.

    Tickets start at $25.

    Proceeds will go to DC Central Kitchen, a nonprofit that provides culinary job training for those facing “high barriers to employment while creating living wage jobs” and bringing food to multiple areas in the D.C. area.

José Umaña

José Umaña is a digital editor for WTOP. He’s been working as a journalist for almost a decade, covering local news, education and sports. His work has appeared in The Prince George’s Sentinel, The Montgomery Sentinel, Orlando Sentinel, PressBox and The Diamondback.

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