It has become tradition each summer that the MLS All-Stars face a top club from Europe. This match is always an entertaining affair. Last season, the MLS outfit beat Chelsea, 3-2, in a simmering contest.
Considering the MLS side and their success against one of the best teams in Europe, it is always a fun debate to discuss how an MLS best 11 side might fare in the English Premier League. Although there is no way to know for sure, after examining who would be on the team and how they would play, it is possible that an MLS best 11 would finish in the top eight.
First things first, the coach of the team would have to be the American coaching legend, Bruce Arena. Arena’s tactics have always been clear. He is a master at utilizing the strength of his players. The most dangerous part of this side would be the front-runners.
Apologies to Chris Wondolowski, but the strike partnership of Thierry Henry and Robbie Keane is too appetizing to pass up. The pair has had success in spades in the Premier League and they are both playing at a high level for their respective clubs. Imagine the movement and runs these two would make. This would be a highly intelligent front line.
Onto the midfield: not enough of a sample to include Diego Valeri just yet, although he might find himself in the squad soon enough. The team would be best served in a traditional diamond midfield formation. Despite Kyle Beckerman’s forever dependable work, the nod for defensive midfielder goes to Osvaldo Alonso. His athleticism would be critical against the Premier League’s best.
The wide-left role goes to another tested Premier League player, Landon Donovan. The wide-right role belongs to a player who will likely have options to play overseas if he chooses very soon, Sporting Kansas City’s own Graham Zusi.
The attacking-midfield spot is reserved for league veteran and Canadian international Dwayne De Rosario.
This midfield is rich going forward. Pace and skill on the wings, finishing and vision from the attacking players and a ball-hawk in the hole. Very formidable.
The center-back partnership of Victor Bernardez and Jamison Olave would be flanked by Montreal’s Hassoun Camara and the Galaxy’s Todd Dunivant.
In the net is the forever dependable Real Salt Lake goalkeeper, Nick Rimando.
The backs might struggle with some of quicker-playing teams. The overall athleticism of the MLS group can be called into question but in terms of being able to match skill, this group would competitive.
For style of play, options are aplenty for the MLS group. Arena could play through the middle, feeding De Rosario and and allowing him the license to create for wingers and front-runners; or the team could focus on the pace and ability they have on the wings. Either way, they would score goals.
Yes, there would be matches in which the team would struggle against the top clubs. Overall, though, this is 11 professionals capable of handling their business against the best in the world.