Soccer Culture

Skills, sand and stars: #MLSAllStar celebration descends on Chicago

Johan Kappelhof

If the rest of #MLSAllStar Week is anything like Day 1, the city of Chicago is in for a treat.

From a daylong Beach Soccer celebration at North Ave. to media hits at MLS Digital HQ to the MLS Skills Challenge at The PrivateBank Fire Pitch, the league's mid-summer spectacle made itself known on the kind of day that's made Chicago summers famous the world over.

Check out a few of the highlights below and look forward to another day with the stars of MLS come Monday. Be sure to follow the Fire on Instagram (@chicagofire) and Snapchat (chifiremls) for all of the behind-the-scenes content from #MLSAllStar Week.

The day began with MLS unveiling its custom Twitter emoji for the #MLSAllStar hashtag, reflecting the kits to be worn by the best of MLS against Real Madrid Wednesday (8 p.m., FS1, Univision) at Soldier Field. Use the hashtag all week long!

The biggest names in MLS and national soccer media began arriving in the Windy City for a weeklong celebration:

Over on the lakefront, a Beach Soccer party was getting underway at North Avenue, recalling a rich tradition of soccer on the sand in our city. Members of the Men In Red, including All-Star Dax McCarty, stopped by to hang out with some MLS legends and current MLS All-Stars:

McCarty also had time to visit Digital HQ downtown, chatting with former Fire player Calen Carr about the season to date, his CONCACAF Gold Cup triumph and what lies ahead in 2017.

Meanwhile, the man voted captain of the MLS All-Star squad, Chicago's Bastian Schweinsteiger, was getting an early look at the host venue of Wednesday's big match and chatting with media members at Soldier Field (and looking good doing it, as usual):

Back downtown, two of the league's top-performing outside backs visited the set of ExtraTime Live, as the Fire's Brandon Vincent and Matt Polster enjoyed an extended stint on the show to discuss their 2017 campaigns and a few more off-the-wall topics. Watch the show in its entirety below:

Lastly, up on the North Side, fans gathered at The PrivateBank Fire Pitch for the unique MLS Skills Challenge presented by FIFA 18, which brought to life the skills competitions featured in the popular video game. Fire centerback and MLS All-Star Johan Kappelhof joined USMNT and Fire great Brian McBride, freestyler Mo Ali and Chicago Red Star Arin Gilliland in a head-to-head clash with Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri, MLS legend Dwayne De Rosario, freestyler Indi Cowie and Red Star Stephanie McCaffrey. It was the latter team that emerged victorious, but the event capped a soccer-filled Sunday for fans of the beautiful game across the city.

“It’s great represent the Fire in your own city, during the MLS All-Star week,” Kappelhof told's John Wilkinson. “It’s nice to do.”