With technical supremacy and bragging rights on the line, Major League Soccer and LIGA MX today announced their elite selections of eight players each who will compete head-to-head in five events during the 2021 MLS All-Star Skills Challenge presented by AT&T 5G on Tuesday, Aug. 24 at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT, FS1 / TUDN / TSN / TVA Sports).
The MLS side will feature Orlando City SC captain Nani– the hero of the 2019 Skills Challenge who ranks sixth in goals (9) and tied for third in assists (6) – once again putting his skills on display in the MLS All-Stars Skills Challenge alongside Orlando City SC goalkeeper, 2021 Copa América semi finalist and first-time All Star Pedro Gallese. They’ll be joined by the league’s leading scorers in Seattle Sounders FC forward Raúl Ruidíaz(11 goals), as well as LA Galaxy forward and the Mexican National Team’s all-time leading scorer Javier “Chicharito” Hernández, who is tied for third-most goals (10) this campaign. The Skills Challenge will also see the participation of Los Angeles Football Club superstar and FIFA World Cup participant Carlos Vela. Vela holds MLS records for most goals by a player in a single season (34, 2019) and most goals scored by a Mexican player in an MLS career (57).
Reigning MLS Cup Most Valuable Player and Newcomer of the Year in the Columbus Crew’s Lucas Zelarayán will star alongside breakthrough young FC Dallas Homegrown forward Ricardo Pepi– who this season at age 18 became the youngest player in MLS history to net a hat trick. MLS will lean on the shot-stopping abilities of newly minted Concacaf Gold Cup champion of the U.S. Men’s National Team in New England Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner.
LIGA MX is coming strong with its most high-profile players as well in Tigres UANL’s all-time leading scorer Andre-Pierre Gignac, a French international fresh off of the Tokyo Olympic Games whose striking and aerial dominance led to 16 goals during the 2020-21 season. Gignac will be joined by C.F. Monterrey’s Rogelio Funes Mori alongside Cruz Azul’s Orbelín Pineda. Both Funes Mori and Pineda starred on Mexico’s Gold Cup roster and will reprise the U.S. vs. Mexico rivalry between clubs, countries, and now All-Stars.
In addition, Deportivo Toluca F.C.’s Rubens Sambueza will showcase one of the most skilled and experienced players in LIGA MX, as an expert free kick taker with freestyle flair alongsideCruz Azul’s Jonathan Rodríguez, the reigning Balón de Oro 2021 winner, earning that honor as the best player in LIGA MX.
The complete rosters for MLS and LIGA MX sides competing in the 2021 MLS All-Star Skills Challenge presented by AT&T 5G are below.
Additional information on the 2021 MLS All-Star Skills Challenge is available at MLSsoccer.com/All-Star.
2021 MLS All-Star Skills Challenge presented by AT&T 5G
Pedro Gallese (Orlando City SC, Goalkeeper), Javier “Chicharito” Hernández (LA Galaxy, Forward), Nani (Orlando City SC, Forward), Ricardo Pepi (FC Dallas, Forward), Raul Ruidiaz (Seattle Sounders FC, Forward), Matt Turner (New England Revolution, Goalkeeper),Carlos Vela (Los Angeles Football Club, Forward), Lucas Zelarayán (Columbus Crew SC, Forward),
Rogelio Funes Mori (C.F. Monterrey, Forward), Jonathan Rodríguez (Cruz Azul, Forward), Andre-Pierre Gignac (Tigres UANL, Forward), Rubens Sambueza (Deportivo Toluca F.C., Midfielder), Diego Valdés (Santos Laguna, Midfielder), Orbelín Pineda (Cruz Azul, Midfielder), Alfredo Talavera (Pumas UNAM, Goalkeeper), Nahuel Guzmán (Tigres UANL, Goalkeeper)