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MLS All-Stars will play Real Madrid on August 2

Don't be surprised when the CR7-to-MLS rumors start up again.

Denis Doyle/Getty Images

MLS has formally announced the opponent for the 2017 All-Star game: Real Madrid will play the league's best on August 2 in Chicago.

Chicago Fire head coach Veljko Paunovic will have the honor of coaching the All-Star squad, which seems likely to include at least a couple of players from the team he manages day-to-day: Bastian Schweinsteiger will be expected to play some part on the MLS All-Star jamboree, and Dax McCarty is showing the sort of form that is traditionally rewarded with selection to the mid-season, all-league roster.

Real Madrid will, of course, be in pre-season in early August, but super-clubs don't sign up for these games simply to play their reserves. If fit, expect the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale to be there - at least to gamely field the inevitable questions about whether they want to play in MLS in future, which they will almost certainly answer sufficiently politely and vaguely to kick-off a fresh round of transfer rumors.

The All-Star game seems increasingly like a relic of times past: times when MLS was a little more desperate for credibility and an audience, and benefited from the annual spectacle of a friendly against a higher-profile opponent. Still, the game does reliably bring MLS exposure to a much wider audience that it typically draws, and for as long as it does that job, it seems likely to remain on the calendar.

It doesn't mean a great deal, the biggest stars won't play in it for very long, and the result counts for nothing at all. But it can yield the occasional memorable highlight.

See you in August, Cristiano.