It has been more than two months since Major League Soccer announced that the 2017 MLS All-Star Game would be coming to Soldier Field in Chicago, but now the opponent is finally known.
Real Madrid was announced as the team that will take on the MLS All-Star team on Wednesday, Aug. 2, with an 8 p.m. kickoff. Madrid becomes the first Spanish club to be included in the MLS All-Star Game.
Madrid has won the UEFA Champions League a record 11 times, including winning the competition last season. The team features a collection of some of the best talent in the world, including Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, James Rodriguez and Sergio Ramos.
With the Chicago Fire serving as host for the All-Star Game, coach Veljko Paunovic will lead the MLS All-Stars in the game.
"It is an honor to represent Major League Soccer and to work with our league's great players in a match against one of the top clubs in the world," Paunovic said in a statement released by the Fire. "I know how special it is to compete against Real Madrid and I think our players and fans will enjoy the experience."
During his playing career, Paunovic played for one of Real Madrid's chief rivals, Atletico Madrid.
"That's a fantastic and very important event for the city, for the club and we are very grateful that we have this honor to play the MLS game against Real Madrid, one of the best teams in the world," Paunovic said after the Fire's 3-0 win against New England. "For everyone in the city I think it's a great opportunity to show how well we are prepared, how we can organize and how we can welcome everyone who is coming to watch the game. Also, we want to give all the fans around the world the opportunity to see a fantastic spectacle. I think that's our objective. We want to play well, we want to build a team and we want to give the fans the opportunity to enjoy in the United States, but broader, too. All around the world I think it's going to be a soccer holiday and we are very excited about it."
There will be a presale offering through the Fire, but tickets will go on sale to the public on May 4.
The MLS All-Star Game comes with a number of other events leading into the match, including the league's Homegrown Game which pits homegrown players from around the league against another youth team. Further details around those events have not yet been announced.