MLS All-Stars: Predicting the Starting XI to Take on Chelsea
With the announcement about the MLS All-Star Game opponent having been made, we can finally take a look at some of the potential players who will represent the league.
Their opponent, as we now know, will be Chelsea. And given the history that's already there (an MLS 1-0 win in 2006), things look promising.
There is a large and very capable pool of talent to choose from, so let's take a look at some of the more promising possibilities.
GK: Dan Kennedy, Chivas USA
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Though they don't have the most impressive record, Chivas have one of the tightest defenses in the league.
And no one's played a bigger role in that, than Kennedy.
He has fulfilled his role as the last line of defense several times, including a dazzling display against Real Salt Lake in an hard-fought 1-0 win.
CB: Wilman Conde, New York Red Bulls
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A newcomer to MLS, Conde has wasted no time in making his presence felt.
He's already established himself as one of the most influential players for the Red Bulls, both on defense and offense.
While an injury may keep him out for a few games, he is a prized asset when healthy.
CB: Aurelien Collin, Sporting Kansas City
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Arguably the best defender in MLS, Collin will be the rock of this team.
He's helped K.C. to their tremendous start by breaking up attack after attack and looking composed on the ball.
He's exactly the type of defender to shut down Chelsea forwards.
CB: Jamison Olave, Real Salt Lake
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In a virtual tie with Collin as a top MLS defender, Olave is a stalwart defender.
He dominates one-on-ones and has been a consistent reason for Real's success.
Shackling Chelsea's front line is a shade harder than anything he's seen in MLS, but if anyone is up to the task, it's Olave.
RM: Kei Kamara, Sporting Kansas City
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Nominally a forward, this would seem an aggressive choice for a right midfielder.
And, it's assumed that Kamara would play higher up the field more as a winger.
Yet, this Kamara has shown himself to be an explosive player coming off the wing, putting together a possible MVP-caliber year as his team continues to dominate the league.
He would create serious headaches—even for Chelsea.
CM: David Beckham, L.A. Galaxy
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Becks is an obvious choice.
Some might knock it because he's getting older all the time, but his decreased mobility isn't as important as his ability to retain possession and turn any dead-ball situation into a goal-scoring threat.
He would obviously add confidence to the team (especially given his past record against Chelsea, which was formidable from his Manchester days).
In this team, his job would be more of a holding midfielder, spraying passes around and making sure Chelsea playmaker Juan Mata can't do the same.
CM: Dwayne De Rosario, D.C. United
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Rosario is probably the most likely choice here. He has experience of actually scoring against Chelsea the last time the teams played (in 2006 with a 70th-minute winner).
Also, he's the defending league MVP and a great midfielder. His energy and intelligence should pair perfectly with Beckham as the two look to soak up Chelsea pressure and use their possession wisely.
LM: Brek Shea, FC Dallas
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Though he's a had a slower start to his 2012 season than he might have wanted, Shea is unquestionably a player that MLS needs in the All-Star game.
In the past year, he's trained in Europe and gained more international experience.
As a tall, yet fast winger, he could pair with Kamara as the difference-makers in the game.
CAM: Landon Donovan, L.A. Galaxy
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He's probably the most talented player in MLS overall.
So why not give him free reign to attack against Chelsea?
Donovan is dynamic when he's involved in the play and allowed to make passes. Giving him a Beckham/De Rosario platform should be enough to keep him involved.
And if he can keep getting chances to work passes and move into space, there's no question that he can score against any defense in the world.
ST: Chris Wondolowski, San Jose Earthquakes
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Probably one of the most interesting players in the league right now.
He isn't blessed with incredible size or speed, but he continues to pile on goal after goal.
His movement is famed throughout the league as uncanny in the way it almost always ensures that he's unmarked in the right place at the right time.
Given the plethora of attacking threats from the midfield ready to deliver the assist, Wondolowski would have a field day working in this team.
ST: Thierry Henry, New York Red Bulls
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The Frenchman has been extremely prolific so far in 2012.
With seven goals and five assists, he's leading the league and second in the league in those categories respectively.
And don't forget that he's no stranger to playing against (and beating) Chelsea.
John Terry probably still has nightmares.