Major League Soccer All-Stars, meet Timbers Army.
Timbers owner Merritt Paulson, Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber and Portland mayor Charlie Hales just announced Portland will host next year's MLS All-Star game.
UPDATE (2:25 pm): If the nature of today's announcement wasn't completely obvious, one needed only look at the press conference's backdrop to see the news: Portland would host the 2014 Major League Soccer All-Star Game, the first major-league All-Star game of any sport to take place in the Rose City.
During a press conference on Wednesday afternoon at Jeld-Wen Field's Key Bank Club, Garber, Paulson and Hales made it official.
"There's something special happening in the market and this stadium," Garber said. "We're proud to announce that next year's AT&T MLS All-Star game will take place here in Jeld-Wen Field and the great city of Portland."
The exhibition match will pit the league's best—coached by Portland coach Caleb Porter—against a to-be-determined international team and will be aired on ESPN and in 130 countries worldwide.
Paulson—who joked that the presser was decidedly NOT to announce he'd been kicked off Twitter by Garber—said it's not hyperbole to say the Timbers have delivered on their promise of four years ago to shine a "terrific spotlight" on the community.
"We've got something really special here," Paulson said. "The eyes of the country and the world will be squarely on Soccer City, USA.
"We're gong to show them an All-Star Game like they've never seen before."
Paulson said he's looking to put together a "host committee" of key local, community and civic leaders, while promising "the biggest global soccer-name opponent that's ever played in Portland."
"I couldn't be more thrilled to be chosen," Paulson added. "We're gonna put our best foot forward, and work starts today on that."
Hales, who was introduced by an MLS emcee as "Charlie Sales," said it's a great honor for Portland and a great fit.
"We're Soccer City, not just here with the Timbers and the Thorns, but all over this city," Hales said. "We're rooted in with soccer here, just like those big Douglas Firs that Timber Joey uses to slice those wood cookies every time we score a goal."
"It's part of our culture, it's part of our community, and that's why it's such a great fit."
Hales looked at Garber and committed the city, its leaders, bureaus and citizens to "join with you and make this a great success for soccer and for Portland."
Click past the jump for the official release from MLS.
NEW YORK—Major League Soccer announced today that Portland will be the host city for the 2014 AT&T MLS All-Star Game. The annual showcase event will feature several days of festivities, culminating in a match between the League’s top players and a renowned international club in late July or early August, 2014, at JELD-WEN Field, home to the Portland Timbers and one of the best soccer fan experiences anywhere.
Soccer in the Portland area and the Timbers have a long history of strong fan support and the club’s popularity has boomed since its inaugural MLS season in 2011. The 2014 AT&T MLS All-Star Game will be the first All-Star Game in a major sport for the city of Portland.
JELD-WEN Field is an iconic sports and entertainment facility located in the heart of downtown Portland, and officially reopened to the public for MLS on April 14, 2011, after a significant renovation crafted to create one of the most unique and authentic soccer environments in the country. Since then, the Timbers have sold out every MLS league match to date, currently a string of 42 consecutive sellouts.
“The Portland Timbers and their passionate fans have certainly earned the honor of hosting the 2014 AT&T MLS All-Star Game,” said Commissioner Garber. “This match will showcase to an international audience the incredible devotion to the game in the Pacific Northwest that serves as one of the most important stories for our league.”
Originally constructed in 1926, JELD-WEN Field is an historic civic gathering place that has played host to some of the region’s most memorable events, including Pelé’s official last professional game, the CONCACAF Gold Cup, FIFA World Cup qualifying matches and the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup. For more information, visit www.JELD-WENField.com.
“We are very pleased to host the national and international soccer community to Soccer City, USA, for the 2014 AT&T MLS All-Star Game and its surrounding events,” said Merritt Paulson, president of the Timbers. “This event will be the first major All-Star Game of any sport ever in Portland and the Timbers and our fans look forward to showcasing our fabulous city and JELD-WEN Field next summer.”
An exclusive pre-sale for Timbers season ticket holders, members of the Timbers Season Ticket Waiting List, Portland Thorns FC season ticket holders and club sponsors will be held at a date to be determined. A public on-sale date will also be announced at a later date.
“Portland is a soccer town, pure and simple, and we are honored that our city has been chosen to host the 2014 AT&T MLS All-Star Game,” said Portland Mayor Charlie Hales. “Our reputation as Soccer City, USA, began in the 1970s with the original Portland Timbers and has been put on display for many other wonderful events over the years, including the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup and a recent CONCACAF Gold Cup doubleheader. We earn that reputation every time the thunderous cheers for the Timbers and Thorns FC roll out of JELD-WEN Field and wash over downtown Portland. And in the summer of 2014, we look forward to earning that reputation once again during Major League Soccer’s showcase summer event. RCTID!”
The 2014 All-Star Game will mark the 11th time that an elite international club has played the MLS All-Stars, who are 6-2-1 in those matches entering the July 31, 2013 game against AS Roma in Kansas City. In addition to honoring the best players in MLS, the game has featured successful, world-famous clubs such as Manchester United (2010 & 2011), Everton FC (2009), Chelsea FC (2006 & 2012), and Chivas de Guadalajara (2003). The opponent for next summer’s game will be announced at a later date.
Portland will be the 16th different city to host the MLS All-Star Game and JELD-WEN Field will be the 11th All-Star venue built or renovated for soccer. A list of previous All-Star Game results and host cities is below.
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