Nothing is official, but it sure looks like the 2012 MLS All-Star Game will be played in Philadelphia. The league office sent out a press release on Monday announcing a Tuesday morning press conference in Philadelphia that will include Mayor Michael Nutter, Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz and MLS Commissioner Don Garber. This announcement comes on the heels of various reports that suggested the Philadelphia Union were one of the teams in the running to host the All-Star Game.
Assuming this is, in fact, the announcement, the big questions become where exactly will the game be played and who will it be played against. Since 2000, eight of the 12 all-star games have been played at Soccer Specific Stadiums and 11 of them have been played at teams' regular home stadiums, which would suggest PPL Park is the likely host. The 2010 game, though, was played at Houston's Reliant Stadium and the Union did host Real Madrid last year at Lincoln Financial Field, suggesting that could be a possible home for this year's game.
The opponent is probably the more interesting piece of speculation. Six of the last seven all-star game opponents have been EPL teams and the last seven have come from the United Kingdom. The 2003 game against Chivas, in fact, is the only example in league history of the all-stars playing a team that comes from a non-English speaking country.
There have already been reports that Liverpool, Chelsea and Celtic will be coming to the United States for a summer tour, making them seemingly obvious candidates. AS Roma will also be joining that trio, which could make for a slightly different style of opponent than the ones to whom we become accustomed.
For more on the All-Star Game coming to Philadelphia, be sure to check Union blog Brotherly Game.