Major League Soccer
All-Star Game lands at RFK Stadium on July 31.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Thursday, June 17, 2004) -- The 2004 Major League Soccer All-Star Game has found its way to RFK Stadium here.
The July 31 festivities will begin with an MLS Reunion Match at 12:30 p.m. (ET) followed by the All-Star game, played in the traditional East-vs.-West format, to commence at 2 p.m. and to be broadcast by ABC.
The game was originally supposed to be played July 24, but was moved to a week later to accommodate a match between the league All-Stars and Spanish power Real Madrid at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.
After a late season collapse dropped Real to fourth place in Spain's Primera Division and cost the club its automatic berth in next season's European Champions League, the Madrid club pulled out of the All-Star game, stating it would interfere with the team's preparations for Champions League qualifying. Real will play two games in Japan before qualifying starts August 11.
Real will "get vast amounts of money in the Far East, and considering that the U.S. tour would impact their preseason, it became a political hot potato at home,'' MLS deputy commissioner Ivan Gazidis told Associated Press. "I don't like it, but I think it's understandable.''
Now, the All-Star Game will feature a contest between teams from MLS's Eastern and Western conferences, as well as a reunion match featuring players from World Cup USA 1994 as the event celebrates its 10th anniversary.
An MLS All-Star team will travel to Madrid for a September 21 game against Real as part of the 26th annual Santiago Bernabeu Trophy competition. That comes at an odd time, during the MLS stretch run for a regular season that ends October 17. A full slate of five MLS games is set for September 18 with five more scheduled for September 25.
Online fan voting through July 5 will decide the East and West starting All-Star lineups and will be announced July 6. Reserves will be named by the league three days later.
The MLS Reunion Match, to be played in 25-minute halves, will feature players who participated in the 1994 World Cup and then went on to play in MLS. It will be competed in a United States-vs.-the-World format.
MLS said those already accepting invitations are Marcelo Balboa, Mike Burns, Paul Caligiuri, Jorge Campos, Mauricio Cienfuegos, Fernando Clavijo, Thomas Dooley, Marco Etcheverry, Richard Gough, John Harkes, Carlos Hermosillo, Frank Klopas, Alexi Lalas, Peter Nowak, Carlos Valderrama, Eric Wynalda and Frank Yallop.
The World team will be coached by U.S. men's manager Bruce Arena, the D.C. United coach from 1996-98. The USA team will be coached by current Honduras technical director Bora Milutinovic, the U.S. coach for the 1994 World Cup and a one-time MetroStars coach. He is the only manager in World Cup history to have guided five different nations in the World Cup finals (Mexico - 1986; Costa Rica - 1990; U.S. - 1994; Nigeria - 1998; China 2002).
Active MLS players are eligible for the reunion match should they not be chosen for the featured East-West contest.
The 2002 All-Star Game was played at RFK Stadium with 31,096 braving violent thunderstorms to attend. RFK also hosted the 1997 and 2000 MLS Cup championship games.