Wednesday, Major League Soccer awarded the Columbus Crew the 2024 MLS All-Star game. For the third time in league history, the annual midseason exhibition combining the best from across the league comes to the Ohio capital city. Not only is there history surrounding Columbus hosting, but next year’s edition will create history all of its own.
Our First All-Star Game: 2000
Crew supporters and the city of Columbus hang its hat on being the first soccer-specific stadium in the United States. Back on July 29, 2000, just 441 days after the Black & Gold christened Historic Crew Stadium with its first match, and win, the MLS All-Stars continued the winning tradition.
In an Eastern Conference vs. Western Conference match-up, three Crew legends in forwards Brian McBride and Dante Washington, along with defender Mike Clark, put on a show. In front of 23,000 fans in the historic venue, McBride and Washington each scored in what’s still a record-holding 13-goal All-Star match.
With the East up 7-4, Washington got on the end of a lucky deflection off the defense and buried the opportunity. McBride did his teammate one better. On a two-on-one break for the East, McBride received a pass with the goalkeeper Zach Thornton approaching. From a difficult angle, McBride showed the skill that eventually made him a legend with England professional side Fulham FC, sending a rocket of a shot into the top netting.
Our Last All-Star Game: 2005
Speaking of Fulham, McBride returned for the second MLS All-Star game in Columbus, in 2005. This time with the English side.
Over the years, Major League Soccer’s changed the format of the All-Star game. The 2005 Columbus edition was the first in a series that ran through 2019 where the best from MLS took on a European side.
While no Crew players scored in the match, Black & Gold legend Frankie Hejduk and the MLS All-Stars defeated Fulham 4-1, thanks to a former Crew phenom: Jeff Cunningham.
Cunningham returned to Historic Crew Stadium in the 2005 All-Star game after playing for Columbus from 1998-2004. In that time, Cunningham amassed impressive goalscoring numbers. In 182 appearances, Cunningham scored 64 goals for Columbus up until that time, ending with 74 when he retired in 2012.
Up 2-1, Cunningham added two insurance goals for the MLS All-Stars, with a sea of his former club’s supporters in the stands. It was a fitting moment for Cunningham, who ultimately returned to Columbus for one season in 2011.
Our Next All-Star Game: 2024
Since 2005, it’s been a long 19 years since MLS saw Columbus as a city deserving a chance at hosting the annual match. Until now.
In that wait, Columbus won an MLS Cup, Supporters’ Shield for the best regular season record and the supporters themselves shielded the team from relocation in 2018.
Now, 23 years after the first soccer-specific stadium in the United States hosted the All-Star game, the only city that’s built two soccer-specific stadiums gets the chance to be on center stage in the summer of 2024.
Hosting 2024’s edition will be Lower.com Field, in Columbus’ Arena District. The Crew are also a team that have All-Stars on their roster in midfielder Lucas Zelarayan and forward Cucho Hernandez. As big as those names are for fans who cheer and sing every matchday downtown, there’s likely to be a name with a global reach on the field in 2024: Lionel Messi.
Heralded as the best soccer player in the world, this summer Messi joins Inter Miami FC. The Argentinian wonder played 20 years in Europe, winning everything a player can win.
Whether it’s the 10 La Liga titles and four Champions League trophies with Barcelona, seven Ballon d’Or awards for Best Player in the World, or lifting the World Cup trophy with Argentina in 2022, Messi is the highest profile player to join Major League Soccer since 2007. That’s when Englishman David Beckham shocked the world in 2007 when he signed with the LA Galaxy.
The Messi Effect has already hit the league and country, and he isn’t slated to arrive until July. Tickets that normally go for $30 to $50 are now being sold for thousands. It’s an intensity that’s unlikely to dull by July of 2024 when Lower.com Field welcomes the brightest stars in the league, and Messi’s star has shined brighter than any for the past 15 years.
In 2024, as the world continues to look on at the exploits of Messi, the city of Columbus will be the city shining the spotlight.