Atlanta United's huge wave of support in their inaugural season, with fans packing home matches in record numbers throughout the year, has earned the city the honor of hosting the 2018 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target.
The game will be played at United's new home, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, where the Five Stripes moved midseason after starting the year at Georgia Tech's Bobby Dodd Stadium. The MLS All-Stars will be led by Atlanta United head coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino.
The date and opponent for next summer's game -- which will be broadcast live on ESPN and UniMás in the United States, TSN and TVA Sports in Canada, and in more than 170 countries across the globe -- will be announced later.
“We’re proud to bring our 2018 All-Star Game to Atlanta, a city and Club that have taken Major League Soccer by storm,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a league statement. “Atlanta United’s success is one of the most compelling and impressive expansion team launches in the history of pro sports, and a testament to Arthur Blank’s vision and leadership, and the tremendous team that he has built both on and off the field.
"Atlanta and its supporters have earned the opportunity to host MLS All-Star week and showcase their passion for the beautiful game.”
With more than 36,000 season tickets sold in their inaugural campaign, Atlanta United has already broken MLS attendance records, averaging an unprecedented 48,200 fans during the regular season, as well as twice setting the MLS single-game attendance record, most recently reaching 71,874 on Sunday against Toronto FC.
“We are honored to host the 2018 MLS All-Star Game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium,” said Atlanta United owner Arthur Blank. “Along with events such as the Super Bowl, College Football Playoff National Championship and NCAA Final Four, being selected to host the MLS All-Star Game in Atlanta again delivers on our promise to bring the biggest events in sports to Atlanta. The Atlanta United supporters and fans of the game from across Atlanta are incredibly dynamic and passionate; they will certainly play a huge role in making this a memorable MLS All-Star Game for the league and a special showcase for our great city and stadium.”
In addition to the match, Atlanta will host nearly a week of events surrounding the game, including concerts, community service initiatives, player appearances, as well as an additional showcase match featuring the best young players from around the league.
“We are honored that our city with its vibrant and diverse population and deep love for soccer has been chosen to host the 2018 MLS All-Star Game,” said Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. “The people of Atlanta look forward to showcasing our city and Mercedes-Benz Stadium next summer.”
Columbus Crew SC is set to open the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs on Thursday, October 26 at 7 p.m. ET by traveling to face Atlanta United FC at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
As announced by Major League Soccer, the match is set to be televised nationally on Unimas and ESPN 2. The match also airs locally on the radio on CD102.5 FM in English and on La Mega 103.1 FM in Spanish.
Should Crew SC defeat Atlanta United FC at Mercedez-Benz Stadium on Thursday, the Black & Gold would advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Winners of the Knockout Round advance to the two-legged, aggregate-goal series Conference Semifinals.
Crew SC returns to the postseason for the third time in four seasons under Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter. 2017 marks the club’s return to the postseason for the first time since the Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs, when Crew SC won the Eastern Conference Championship. This is the 14th all-time postseason berth for the Black & Gold as well as the seventh berth for the club in ten seasons, a streak that began in 2008, a year that Crew SC won the first professional championship for Columbus by capturing that season's MLS Cup.