Arsenal Are Coming To California!

This post first appeared on FootySF and is reproduced with their permission.

Major League Soccer announced today that Arsenal Football Club will face off against MLS’s top players in the 2016 MLS All-Star Game at Avaya Stadium in San Jose on Thursday, July 28th.

Arsenal FC, currently tied for second place in the Barclays Premier League, features such international stars as Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Özil, Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey and Petr Čech. Under the steady hand of legendary manager, Arsène Wenger, Arsenal has built a renowned reputation of playing some of the most attractive and exciting soccer in the world.

“We are pleased to welcome Arsenal, one of the most successful clubs in the world, to compete against the best of MLS,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber.

The Gunners will hope to do what their London rivals could not – beat the MLS All-Stars. In 2015 Tottenham Hotspur was beaten 2-1, while Chelsea lost 3-2 in 2012.

Arsenal has an impressive history English League Champions 13 times, FA Cup winners a record 12 times, FA Community Shield winners 14 times (FA Charity Shield before 2002), League Cup winners twice and European Cup Winners’ Cup (1994) and European Fairs Cup (1970) winners once. Arsenal has competed in the UEFA Champions League for 18 consecutive seasons. In addition, Arsenal Ladies are the most successful English club in women’s football.

Hugely popular in the United States, Arsenal boast a large nationwide supporters group, Arsenal America, and the Bay Area is no exception. San Francisco is home to the Bay Area Gooners(“Gooners” are what Arsenal fans call themselves), whose Facebook group boasts almost 1,000 members.

Two years ago, some of their members tired of driving up 101 in the wee hours of the morning, formed the South Bay Gooners, and it has thrived. They watch their matches at Jack’s Bar in San Jose.

The San Francisco group watches every Arsenal match at Maggie McGarry’s in North Beach, regardless of the start time. They also host all-ages match viewings at the San Francisco Athletic Club for many matches. The time difference between London and San Francisco makes for some early mornings during the Premier League season. This weekend’s match against top-of-the-table Leicester City FC kicks off at 4:00AM PT.

As member, Clinton Becker, tells it, “Being a Gooner in the Bay Area comes with a certain level of dedication, getting up for 4:45 AM match or flying 10 hours to see Arsenal play live in London. Now to be able to see them playing in my own backyard is almost a dream come true.”

San Jose becomes the fifth city to host the MLS All-Star Game for a second time. The 2001 MLS All-Star Game was held at Spartan Stadium in San Jose on July 28, 2001, exactly 15 years to the day that this year’s match takes place at Avaya Stadium.

The game will be broadcast live on ESPN and UniMás in the United States, TSN and RDS in Canada, and in more than 140 countries around the world, including Sky Sports in the United Kingdom.

Arsenal will also play Chivas de Guadalajara at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. on July 31st.

Fans will have the opportunity to purchase tickets to the 2016 AT&T MLS All-Star Game will be made available through a lottery system. To register for the lottery and the opportunity to purchase tickets, please visit mlssoccer.com/all-star/tickets.

San Jose Earthquakes season ticket holders will receive an exclusive pre-sale opportunity and will not need to register for the lottery.

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