10 Bold Predictions for the MLS All-Star Game
On Monday, Major League Soccer announced its full 20-man roster for the 2013 MLS All-Star Game, which will be July 31 at Sporting Park in Kansas City.
The MLS All-Stars will take on Italian Serie A giants A.S. Roma, following a string of MLS All-Star games in which the MLS side has taken on a foreign club. Past opponents of the MLS All-Stars have included English sides Chelsea, Manchester United, Everton, Fulham and West Ham United, as well as Scottish side Celtic and Mexican side Chivas Guadalajara.
Here are 10 bold predictions for the game.
Sporting KC’s Crowd Will Get to Celebrate a Goal from One of Their Own
Sporting Kansas City, which has won the Eastern Conference the last two seasons and will host the 2013 All-Star Game, has three players on the All-Star roster in Matt Besler, Aurelien Collin and Graham Zusi.
Center-backs Besler and Collin will likely go forward and be targets on all of MLS’ set pieces. Despite being a defender, Collin has netted 10 goals in his three seasons in MLS. Zusi, as a wide attacker, has 15 career MLS goals.
Besler and Zusi are both threats to create an assist for the All-Stars, with Zusi already playing provider 31 times in his MLS career. Zusi usually takes all of Sporting's set pieces and even does so when called up to the United States men's national team. Besler is a danger to provide some set-piece spark with his ability for long throw-ins in the attacking third.
Mike Magee Will Score Because That’s What Mike Magee Does
Mike Magee has been one of the most underappreciated players in MLS throughout his career. But if there’s one thing Mike Magee does well, it is showing up on the big stage.
Over the last two seasons, Magee was a key part of the LA Galaxy’s MLS championship runs, scoring three goals in both the 2011 and 2012 MLS playoffs.
This season, he is already off to a red-hot start with 11 goals in 17 games.
Magee is also the ultimate difference-maker. The Galaxy were 5-3-2 with him in the starting lineup to start the 2013 season, but have gone 4-5-1 since he left for the Chicago Fire. The Fire were 2-7-2 before Magee’s arrival from LA, but have gone 4-2-1 since acquiring him.
In his MLS career, Magee has notched 55 goals and picked up 27 assists. Look for him to find a way to put another one home against Roma.
MLS Will Win…Again
As much as football fans abroad (and even some here at home) try and malign MLS’ talent levels, the fact is that the MLS All-Star team has a solid winning record against foreign clubs.
In its nine matches against European and Mexican clubs, the MLS All-Stars are 6-2-1, including two victories over English powerhouse Chelsea.
Kyle Beckerman Will Try to Man-Mark Michael Bradley—and Drop of Exhaustion
While Kyle Beckerman is undoubtedly one of the better holding midfield players in MLS, he will simply be no match for Michael Bradley, dubbed Il Generale by Italian fans.
Bradley’s box-to-box movement and otherworldly fitness will simply leave Beckerman gasping for air.
Landon Donovan Will Show Up in Disguise—and Try to Sneak into the Game
One of the most surprising aspects of the MLS All-Star roster announcement Monday was the absence of Landon Donovan, who had been on the All-Star roster for 12 consecutive years before being snubbed this year.
It was a bold move by MLS All-Star manager Peter Vermes and MLS Commissioner Don Garber as Donovan is at or near the top of every significant MLS category, including goals, assists and championships won.
No One Will Need to Be Reminded Who Daniele De Rossi Is
Daniele De Rossi, who will suit up for A.S. Roma, is no stranger to American soccer fans. Despite playing his entire career in Italy, he is well remembered here at home for his infamous elbow of U.S. international Brian McBride in the 2006 World Cup.
McBride, who himself was a seven-time MLS All-Star with the Columbus Crew, was forced to leave the field with a bloodied face and De Rossi was sent off with an early red card.
DeAndre Yedlin Will Impress so That He Will Earn a USMNT Call-Up in August
DeAndre Yedlin is the first MLS rookie to make the All-Star team since 2005, when a young Michael Parkhurst made the squad.
The Seattle Sounders' right-back was one of MLS Commissioner Don Garber’s picks.
Yedlin has burst onto the professional soccer scene in 2013 with a number of strong performances early in the MLS season. He also was one of the few bright spots for the U.S. squad in the U-20 World Cup last month in Turkey.
With the U.S.' depth at right-back up in the air, Yedlin will put together a solid performance against Roma in the All-Star Game and earn himself a national team call-up for the USMNT’s friendly against Bosnia in August.
Marco Di Vaio Will Show Us All How He Scored 74,000 Goals
Marco Di Vaio made the MLS Fan XI last week after he won the "In the Game" challenge. Fans around the world scored 74,000 goals with Di Vaio on EA Sports' FIFA Soccer 13 between July 3 and 10 to earn Di Vaio his place in the Fan XI.
Di Vaio’s digital self edged out Robbie Keane, who scored “only” 70,000 goals over the same time period.
Di Vaio’s analog self is currently second in the league with 11 goals in the 2013 season.
Thierry Henry Will Finally Perform When It Counts
Despite a storied career at both the club and international levels, Thierry Henry has not yet been able to make an impact in MLS on the big stage.
While Henry has scored 39 goals in MLS since arriving in 2010, he has scored only one goal in six playoff games, seeing his New York Red Bulls make an early exit three years in a row. Henry was also a starter in the 2011 and 2012 All-Star Games, but has failed to tally.
Neutrals Will Be Impressed with the Atmosphere in Kansas City
Sporting Park, home of the 2013 All-Star Game and MLS franchise Sporting KC, opened in 2011 to much fanfare. It is a state-of-the-art facility and has won several awards.
In addition to earning a reputation as a raucous MLS environment, the stadium and Kansas City's home crowd also emerged as one of most energetic home venues for the USMNT in the team’s 3-1 win over Guatemala in World Cup qualifying last October.
Sporting Park and the great soccer fanbase in Kansas City can hold their own against any of the great and growing atmospheres in the U.S., including Portland and Seattle.
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