For the first time ever, all-star teams from Mexico’s Liga MX and Major League Soccer of the U.S. and Canada are set to play one another, MLS announced Wednesday, as the two leagues look to capitalize on the longstanding rivalry between the U.S. and Mexico national soccer teams.
The game is set for Aug. 25 at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles, according to MLS.
Plans had been in the works for an MLS-Liga MX All-Star Game last year, but the idea was derailed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Since 2005, the top players from MLS have come together to take on European clubs like Manchester United, Real Madrid and Chelsea for the league’s all-star games, but this is the first time MLS has taken on another league.
This will also be the first time Liga MX has ever put together an all-star team, since all-star games are almost exclusively an American sports tradition and are largely unheard of in soccer outside the United States.
“A game of this magnitude in Los Angeles, played in front of incredible fans in one of the greatest soccer stadiums in global soccer, is unlike anything our sport has seen,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said. “This event is a perfect expression of the groundbreaking partnership that continues to build between MLS and LIGA MX.”
Soccer games between the national teams of the U.S. and Mexico are often highly intense matchups that can attract TV audiences dwarfing most other sporting events in the United States. Data from Nielsen showed Sunday night’s CONCACAF Nations League final between the U.S. and Mexico drew 3.9 million viewers on Univision alone—more than any NHL playoff game in the past week and more than all NBA playoff matchups except for the final game of the Phoenix Suns-Los Angeles Lakers series on Thursday. The U.S. defeated Mexico 3-2 in extra time to win the Nations League.
Liga MX has widely been considered the strongest soccer league in North America since its founding in 1943, but MLS has steadily grown along with American sports fans’ interest in soccer since its inaugural season in 1996. That’s led to bigger television contracts for the league, bringing with it higher revenue and raised salary caps. In turn, that’s drastically increased the value of most teams. In 2013, for instance, Forbes valued the Seattle Sounders as the most expensive MLS team, carrying a price tag of $175 million. In Forbes’ 2019 list—the most recent for MLS—Atlanta United topped the list, with an estimated value of $500 million. That estimation puts Atlanta United’s valuation above 12 NHL teams.
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The new competition comes ahead of the U.S., Mexico and Canada jointly hosting the 2026 FIFA World Cup, which will be the first time the event will be held in three different countries.