Atlanta United players excited about MLS All-Star Game

2:18 p.m Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017 Sports
HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
September 16, 2017 Atlanta - Atlanta United fans cheer in the first half of an MLS soccer match at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday, September 16, 2017. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

A few of Atlanta United’s players  said Thursday they were excited that the MLS All-Star game is expected to come to the city in 2018.

The league is expected to formally announce Monday that the game will be played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home of Atlanta United.

“I think that’s great,” said Mark Bloom, an Atlanta United fullback who grew up in Marietta. “I think the city deserves it. Not that we need a push to get more fans, but I think it’s going to make for an incredible environment. Probably pack out the stadium, bring in a good team. It’s exciting.”

Atlanta United sent a delegation to Chicago to observe the staging of this season’s All-Star game at Chicago in Soldier Field in August. Three Atlanta United players, Michael Parkhurst, Greg Garza and Miguel Almiron, were among those who were defeated by Real Madrid in penalty kicks.

“I hope I’ll be in it, wherever it will be,” Atlanta United midfielder Julian Gressel said.

The All-Star break is more than just a game. Previous weeks have included numerous fan events as well as a game that features the best products of the MLS club’s academies against an academy team from another club. Atlanta United’s Andrew Carleton and Chris Goslin were two players who participated in that game at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill.

There are numerous questions that will be asked about the game Monday at the news conference, which will be attended by MLS Commissioner Don Garber, Atlanta United owner Arthur Blank, Mayor Kasim Reed and Atlanta Sports Council President Dan Corso. 

Among the questions are:

*The date of the game so that it doesn’t conflict or be affected too much by the World Cup in Russia, which will be held June 14-July 15?

*Will grass be brought in and placed over the turf?

*Who will be the opponent?

*Why Atlanta before Orlando, Seattle, Toronto and other cities?

*Will there be a Homegrown Game again and where will that be played?

*And, of course, when will tickets go on sale and how much will they be? 

Atlanta United is averaging 46,271 tickets sold per game and is on pace to break the league’s average attendance record of 44,247 set by Seattle in 2015.

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