The Best Of MLS And World At The All-Star GameMLS All Stars take on Tottenham Hotspur for the 2015 edition of the ASG
by Katherine Rupp | Wednesday, July 29, 2015
All Star Games and weekends often are played up in the media as a chance to showcase the best talent in a league. Some games are chalked up as a waste of time. Other games and weekends are used as ways to grow a league. The MLS All Star Game (moreso, week) is a bit of everything.
One of the top teams in the Premiership – Tottenham Hotspur – have crossed the pond to play against the best in MLS. Although the MLS All Star game is, in and of itself, a friendly, as we all know (or most of us should know) that a friendly like this isn’t too amiable sometimes. Last year’s eventual champions, the MLS All Stars, played against world powerhouse, Bayern Munich, and came away with the 2-1 win.
The game, although a friendly with many Bayern stars not playing to full strength, became quite the sight with what may have seemed to be a game that Bayern could’ve taken by the horns, especially after an 8th minute strike from striker Robert Lewandowski. However, BWP – Bradley Wright-Phillips – came back with a goal in the 51st and former loanee to Bayern and MLS great, Landon Donovan, scored in the 70th to round out the 2014 edition of the MLS All Star Game. Regardless of the game or match score, what will be remembered from last year (and probably will be the most memorable MLS All Star Game aspect ever) is the handshake snub from former Barcelona coach and current Bayern manager, Pep Guardiola, to Portland and MLS All Star manager, Caleb Porter.
Beyond that moment, another great thing that has happened during the All Star Game is the recognition of MLS players knowing what they’re doing and doing it well. Hopefully this year’s edition of the MLS All Star Game in Denver against Tottenham will bring about certain anecdotes like how a handful of years ago when Chelsea was the visiting team, Chris Wondolowski had a huge compliment from Chelsea captain John Terry with saying that Wondo had ‘great off the ball movement’ that makes it hard for defenders to do their job.
Although Spurs has yet to take the field against the All Stars, fans already know a special element about this game. Multiple Americans have played – or currently do play – for Tottenham and it’s a crash course of America, England, MLS, and the Premier League all together. From Jurgen Klinsmann playing at White Hart Lane about 20 years ago, to recently-retired Brad Friedel, or former lilywhite Clint Dempsey and current players and US Soccer players DeAndre Yedlin and Cameron Carter-Vickers (who did not travel), this match up looks to be interesting.
With Harry Kane matching up against Laurent Ciman, Christian Eriksen running alongside Kaka and Benny Feilhaber, and Jan Vertonghen against Kei Kamara, Tottenham must not take the MLS All Stars lightly, but also vice versa. This is a great chance for the MLS names to be brought up in households that may not have usually spoken of American soccer and those Spurs names mentioned in a gracious manner when maybe they’re not usually because a family supports another London team.
Regardless, the MLS All Star Game is a great chance for MLS players to be recognized for how well they play or how much fanfare has been around the league for certain players, but it is a friendly that doesn’t need to have too much taken away from it. Although many players and fans and pundits have mentioned that a different format may be better (East vs. West, possibly), the chance to bring in bigger names from Europe or South America is a huge boost to the sport in the US and MLS can benefit from those players that fans watch on tv at 6am play against some of the best in Major League Soccer.
So although the MLS All Star Game – and not just this year, but every year – is just a friendly that doesn’t mean anything (especially for clubs from Europe who are in their preseason), there are fewer “cons” about the match and greater “pros” for the MLS All Star Game. So remember that and enjoy the match while watching some of the best MLS players take on EPL great, Tottenham Hotspur.
(Please keep in mind, and for full disclosure, the author of the article’s Premier League club is Tottenham Hotspur.)