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So one of the world's best teams handled a group of players who were thrown together two days before the match. Well isn't that a shocker? Not in the least, but that is the MLS All-Star Game for you. The best teams from Europe come to the United States for preseason and play a group of MLS players with no cohesion in a friendly that ESPN does their best to convince us is important. The match doesn't matter in the slightest, but the MLS All-Stars were still probably hoping to do better than last year when Manchester United defeated them 5-2 in Houston. Instead, it went worse, with the English Premier League champions rolling past them 4-0 thanks to goals by Anderson, Ji-Sung Park, Dimitar Berbatov and Danny Welbeck.
It took all of 20 minutes for United to first exploit the disjointed MLS side. Berbatov was given far too much time at the top of the box and he and Wayne Rooney were able to play the ball with each other before the MLS defenders tried to close them down. By the time the MLS team bothered to cut down space it was far too late, Anderson had all the space in the world to make a late run into the box and when he did he got the ball with a clear shot at goal. The Brazilian slotted the ball home and United were ahead, 1-0.
Just before halftime the Red Devils doubled their lead and it was all Park's doing. He received the ball just inside the box and turned quickly to face goal. Sean Franklin looked to close him down, but he was outclassed by a brilliant Park. The Korean undressed the Galaxy defender, clearing himself enough face to fire on goal for another United tally.
Berbatov wanted to do his best to match Park's brilliance and did. United, showing off the quality that is to be expected from a Premier League champions, knocked the ball around with ease. It was a beautiful sequence that led to Berbatov holding off a defender and chipping the keeper beautifully. Unfortunately, it bounced off the crossbar, but it came back to him, he chested the ball down and finished for the Red Devils' third of the evening.
The final goal of the match didn't quite belong, but it did symbolize the MLS team's unfortunate evening. Welbeck was at distance and cut back to let a shot go that was always unlikely to beat the keeper. When it started going wide of the goal it was even more unlikely to score, but it deflected off of Geoff Cameron's knee and in for the final goal of the match.
The MLS team wasn't nearly as bad as the scoreline might suggest. They had their chances with MLS with David Beckham forcing a top notch save, Chris Wondolowski coming close and Omar Bravo missing an empty net, but United were better than their patch work side. There were fireworks, stars and some brilliant play at Red Bull Arena as yet another fun, yet unimportant All-Star Game came to a close with the European challengers on top.
The problem with all-star teams is that they are hastily thrown together and don't have a hint of cohesion. That's going to be a very big problem when that team has to play one of the world's best teams like Manchester United and the MLS All-Star Game has shown that to be a gigantic problem. While the MLS team has struggled to link up or organize themselves at the back, the Red Devils are clicking and thanks to goals by Anderson and Ji-Sung Park, the English Premier League Champions are ahead 2-0 at halftime.
Every time the MLS team goes forward they open themselves up at the back. That said, MLS has several chances to get on the scoreboard. David Beckham was lively and played some great long balls to stretch the United defense and he also ripped a great shot from 30 yards, only to see it tipped over the bar. Thierry Henry also showed no hesitation to get involved, while Brad Davis was active both going forward and tracking back, but the unfamiliarity between the players was evident.
United flew forward and if it weren't some poor balls in the final third they could have a couple more goals. After 20 minutes, United finally broke the deadlock though. The MLS defense looked lost and left Dimitar Berbatov alone at the top of the box. He was able to play it to Wayne Rooney and still the MLS team did not close down. In a late, scrambling attempt to cut down the space, two defenders closed down and left acres of space for Anderson to make a late run into the box. He collected the ball and calmly finished, putting the Red Devils ahead, 1-0.
Just before the halftime whistle United doubled their lead. Park received a pass just inside the box and turned Sean Franklin inside out. With the Galaxy defender lost, Park cut in and ripped a great shot to the back post to make it a 2-0 United lead at halftime.
The way the first half went you would have to think there are more goals in this one. Jamison Olave had to leave the match with an injury and without the hulking centerback the United attackers will find space much easier to come by. United hasn't been picture perfect at the back either and the MLS has enough top attacking players that common sense would dictate they get themselves at least one goal too.
The teams are in for the MLS All-Star Game and there aren't many surprises. The MLS team are going with an attacking 4-3-3, something most expected from head coach Hans Backe. Sean Franklin and Bobby Convey are both usually eager to go forward from their fullback spots and will be asked to push up so create width, while Omar Bravo will likely drop a little deeper to turn the formation into more of a 4-3-1-2.
For United they're in their usual 4-4-2. New signing Phil Jones is in at right back, but the experienced center backs Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand inside of them. Another new signing, Ashley Young, is also starting with Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov making up the forward pairing.
This is just an exhibition game so expect plenty of subs. The MLS team has 11 players on their bench and United has nine so there are plenty of options.
It's that time of year again. The MLS All-Star game is here, and just like last season, Manchester United will be their opponents. Champions of England, runners up in the Champions League... United are a formidable opponent. But the MLS side is no pushover either. Thierry Henry, David Beckham and Landon Donovan provide the star power for a team full of the league's best players looking to avenge a 5-2 loss from last time around.
It should be at the very least a fun little match, and it's also the perfect time for testing out a bit of a change in the way we report on matches live. We're going to be conducting a bit of an experiment here at SB Nation Soccer by covering this game live using the aptly-named CoverItLive. Join us for... well, we don't really know. We've never done this before.
Javier Hernandez (Chicharito) will miss Wednesday's MLS All-Star Game after spending Tuesday night in the hospital, the Manchester United website reported. Chicharito suffered a mild concussion during a training session at Red Bull Arena on Tuesday. The injury was not considered serious, according to club spokesman:
"We have taken all the necessary precautions, which included an overnight stay in hospital. The manager will give further updates in due course."
Chicharito was expected to be one of the star attractions of the game, the second straight year Manchester United has played the MLS All-Stars. Chicharito had also been unable to play in previous friendlies United had played during their summer U.S. tour.
Among the United players that are expected to make an appearance are Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand, Ryan Giggs and Nemanja Vidic. They will play a team headlined by the likes of David Beckham, Thierry Henry and Omar Bravo.
The game kicks off at 8:30 p.m. (eastern) and will be broadcast on ESPN2, Galavision and TSN). Tickets can be purchased here.
If we must have all-star games, and in North America that does seem to be the case, you could do a lot worse than MLS's format.
As promised, Major League Soccer named six more players to their inactive All-Star roster on Monday. The players were determined by a vote of the players and will receive All-Star bonuses, per the Collective Bargaining Agreement, but won't play in the game.
None of these names should come as much of a surprise. Alonso, long considered one of the league's unsung heroes, has been enjoying a breakout season with the Seattle Sounders, leading the league in tackles and adding three goals. De Rosario, despite two trades, has six goals and six assists. Hassli, a first-year Designated Player, has eight goals in just 14 games. Lindpere has produced five goals and five assists, while becoming an on-field leader. Juninho has thre goals and two assists as a primarily defensive-minded midfielder. Rimando is once again enjoying a stellar season in goal for Real Salt Lake.
Kasey Keller will join the MLS All-Star team in its July 27 match against Manchester United. The Seattle Sounders goalkeeper was initially ruled out of the All-Star game along with any other players from Seattle, FC Dallas and Toronto due to conflicts with CONCACAF Champions League matches.
Keller will be with the Sounders to play San Francisco FC in Panama City on the Tuesday night before the All-Star game. He'll then fly to Harrison, N.J., to join the All-Star squad the next night, likely as the team's third keeper.
Keller was actually voted in as the squad's starter in net. Of 250 shots faced this season, Keller has turned back all but 23, giving up 1.04 goals per game. Still, don't expect him to see the field barring red cards or injuries.
Be sure to head over to the SBNation soccer hub for more on the upcoming match against Manchester United.
Hans Backe will have a roster of players who shouldn't be too intimidated by the likes of Manchester United when he leads the MLS All-Stars in their July 27 match. Among the players he named to the gameday roster are EPL veterans Thierry Henry, David Beckham and Landon Donovan; current and former internationals Faryd Mondragon, Omar Cummings, Juan Agudelo and Omar Bravo; and previous All-Star participants Shalrie Joseph, Chris Wondolowski and Brad Davis.
The gameday roster -- which includes all the available players who had previously been named to the team, as well 13 other players chosen by Backe -- will have a nice mix of experience and youth, and would seem at least capable of remaining competitive with Manchester United for periods.
Backe, somewhat surprisingly, named four Houston Dynamo players to his roster, the most of any team. Joining Davis, the league's assist leader, were Corey Ashe, Geoff Cameron and Tally Hall. Among Backe's other selections were Bobby Convey, Jamison Olave, Heath Pearce, Kyle Beckerman, Shalrie Joseph, Nick LaBrocca and Chris Wondolowski.
In all 26 of the 32 CBA-required All-Star team spots have now been named. The remaining six spots will be filled by a player vote.
Goalkeeper: Tally Hall (Houston Dynamo), Faryd Mondragón (Philadelphia Union)
Defenders: Corey Ashe (Houston Dynamo), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Geoff Cameron (Houston Dynamo), Bobby Convey(San Jose Earthquakes), Sean Franklin (LA Galaxy), Jamison Olave (Real Salt Lake), Heath Pearce (Chivas USA), Tim Ream (New York Red Bulls).
Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), David Beckham (LA Galaxy), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Jack Jewsbury (Portland Timbers), Shalrie Joseph (New England Revolution), Nick LaBrocca (Chivas USA)
Forwards: Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls), Omar Bravo (Sporting Kansas City), Omar Cummings (Colorado Rapids), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
Inactive All-Stars (Note that another six inactive All-Stars will be chosen via player voting):
If all-star games are supposed to be about giving the fans what they want, it's hard to argue with MLS Commissioner Don Garber naming Juan Agudelo and Omar Bravo to the team. Neither are having seasons that seem particularly worthy of being named to the MLS All-Star Team, but are players any fan of the league should want to see.
Agudelo becomes the first Homegrown Player to make an MLS All-Star team. He has shown moments of brilliance this season, scoring four goals as well as working his way onto the United States national team.
Bravo is in the midst of his first MLS season after a decorated career in Mexico. He also has four goals and two assists this season.
There have now been 14 players named to the MLS All-Star Team, which will take on Manchester United at Red Bull Arena on July 27. New York Red Bulls coach Hans Backe will name the rest of the gameday roster on Monday. The Collective Bargaining Agreement stipulates that 32 players will be named all-stars. After Backe makes his selections, a player vote will determine the rest of the 32 spots.
The impressive run for Sporting Kansas City continues. When the league announced the First XI for the 2011 MLS All-Star Game they also announced the winner of the AT&T Text Vote. It turns out that Sporting defender Matt Besler won the vote.
Sporting's tech-savvy fans helped give Besler 30 percent of the text vote, outing names like Landon Donovan, David Beckham and Thierry Henry to name a few. The club also did some smart marketing behind Besler to help push him to the top of the voting.
The votes were compiled between June 8 and July 5. Besler received nearly three times as many text votes as the next closest player.
Although there is no guarantee that he will play against Manchester United at Red Bull Arena on July 27 - only 18 players will actually be on Manager Hans Backe's game-day roster.
He has started 16 of Kansas City's 18 league matches this season, and the club's current 12-game unbeaten streak corresponded with Besler's return to the starting lineup and partnership with Aurélien Collin.
The votes are in for the first XI in the 2011 MLS All-Star Game against Manchester United, and unsurprisingly, the big market teams have put in a number of players. Four members of the LA Galaxy were voted into the first XI, while three New York Red Bulls players made the list. The Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers got players in with their large fanbases as well, with one player each from FC Dallas and San Jose Earthquakes rounding out the list. Injuries and competitive fixtures might mean Hans Backe doesn't pick these 11 players to start the game, but these are the goalkeeper, four defenders, four midfielders, and two strikers who received the most votes.
MLS First XI
Kasey Keller (Seattle Sounders); Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Sean Franklin (LA Galaxy), Rafa Marquez (New York Red Bulls), Tim Ream (New York Red Bulls); David Beckham (LA Galaxy), Jack Jewsbury (Portland Timbers), Brek Shea (FC Dallas), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy); Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
Though it's unlikely that this team stays intact as the starting lineup, most of these players will end up facing Wayne Rooney, Chicharito, and company. The game will be held on July 27 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ.
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