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2017 Summer Guide

A Locals’ Guide to Navigating MLS All-Star Week

The hordes will be descending as we host one of the most popular sports teams on the planet. Here’s how to embrace—or simply survive—the festivities.

Photos: (Soldier Field) Scott Strazzante/Chicago Tribune; (Giovinco, Kaká) Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel; (Villa) Andy Marlin/Orlando Sentinel

You might’ve heard that the Major League Soccer All-Star Game is coming to town for the first time in more than a decade. On August 2, the biggest talent this side of the Atlantic (think Sebastian Giovinco, David Villa, and Kaká) will be hustling down the pitch against Spain’s iconic Real Madrid before an expected sellout crowd—more than 61,000 fans—at Soldier Field. Plus, the week leading up to the face-off will be crammed with events and festivities, which could bring in an estimated $30 million to $40 million for the city.

Great news, right? Well, yes, until you find yourself swallowed up in a throng of soccer superfans (they’re something special, no?) when you’re just trying to get through your day. But instead of boycotting the chaos—we are, after all, hosting (arguably) the most popular sports team on the planet—try one of these suggestions to make the most of the hullabaloo.

If:You dig soccer, but, hey, you’re a doer, not a watcher

Then:Grab your crew and get your sweat on in an all-day MLS-hosted beach soccer tourney, played on specially created pitches at North Avenue and Oak Street beaches (July 30, noon). Bonus: Take your victory lap in the lake.

If:You prefer your fútbol hotties in street clothes rather than in game jerseys

Then:Hit up Harris Theater (July 31, 6:30 p.m.) to catch the NBCSN talk show Men in Blazers—hosted by British soccer pundits Michael Davies and Roger Bennett—in a live-stream video podcast with a few of the All-Stars themselves.

If:You don’t give a rat’s ass about soccer

Then:Suck it up and hunt down free tickets to the MLS concert at Northerly Island (July 31, 8 p.m.). Yes, it’ll be crawling with promotional hype, but past years have featured big names like Flo Rida and Macklemore. For a free show, we’ll take it. (Check the MLS app for deets and tickets.)

If:You want good seats for the game (August 2, 8 p.m.) without blowing the family inheritance

Then:Look for 300-level seats on the west side (going for less than $200 on StubHub at presstime). They protrude out over the lower seats (up to $800 each) for a killer sideline view of Cristiano Ronaldo doing his thing.

If:Game tickets are sold out

Then:Snag seats at the pregame training sessions (August 1, 10 a.m.) at Soldier Field. You’ll get a behind-the-scenes preview without the insane crowds or, you know, excitement or atmosphere or drama. (Ticket details were still being finalized at press time.)

If:You’re not into battling traffic and raucous crowds

Then:Get comfy on your couch for the week. Lollapalooza (August 3 to 6) starts in Grant Park the day after the game. Let’s just call Columbus and South Lake Shore Drives a war zone for the entire first part of August, shall we?

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