Major League Soccer may have adopted its "football clubs," "pitches," "kits," and "tables" from European football, but tonight, we'll watch perhaps the most uniquely American soccer tradition: the MLS All-Star Game.
The best players from across the league, as selected by the fans, All-Star coaches, and, for some reason, Commissioner Don Garber, are set to take on English Premier League Side Tottenham Hotspur, and Orlando City’s own Kaká will captain the home side. Of course, the only thing more American, across all sports, than an all-star game is debating the merits of an all-star game.
Why does the MLS All-Star Game consist of playing an English side — and just a middling-to-good one at that — in what amounts to a glorified preseason friendly for them? Why play at all, considering it's an extra mid-week match and more travel for players on teams in intense playoff races (as is the case for Kaká and Orlando City)? If you're tuning in, be prepared to hear endless ramblings on different match formats and what-not. It's the same thing Every. Single. Year.
Of course, in a league that's always heavily marketed its star players, the allure of an all-star event is clear. The draw for fans is clear as well. How often has someone asked, "What's the best 11 in the league?" Well, now you have the answer in real life, right in front of you on the field.
The roster will be a little weaker than it could have been this year, with Steven Gerrard, Robbie Keane, Michael Bradley, and Chris Tierney all bowing out, and Sebastian Giovinco wavering at the last moment as well. Even with those notable absences though, you could argue that this will be the most talented team in the history of the event.
We won't take this too seriously, as it's meant to be a showcase event more than anything. Still, it's an exciting opportunity to see some of the biggest names in stateside soccer go up against a premiership side with superstars the likes of Harry Kane and Hugo Lloris.
Some info to prepare you for tonight:
- A hilarious beginner’s guide to Tottenham Hotspur for MLS All-Star fans from SB Nation’s Cartilage Free Captain blog.
- Clint Dempsey discusses the format of the All-Star Game. Could MLS make the game more meaningful, like in Major League Baseball?
- ESPNFC’s Jason Davis picked his own All-Star Team, based solely on merit, and gave a nod to OCSC’s Darwin Ceren
- Here’s a recap of the MLS Homegrown Game, in which Landon Donovan coached and Orlando’s Tyler Turner started against Club America.
2015 MLS All-Star Game Roster:
Defenders (8): DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo), Tony Beltran (Real Salt Lake), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Laurent Ciman (Montreal Impact), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Chad Marshall (Seattle Sounders), Drew Moor (Colorado Rapids),
Chris Tierney (New England Revolution), Waylon Francis (Columbus Crew SC)
Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Fabian Castillo (FC Dallas), Benny Feilhaber (Sporting Kansas City), Steven Gerrard (LA Galaxy), Kaká (Orlando City SC), Dax McCarty (New York Red Bulls), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City), Sam Cronin (Colorado Rapids), Ethan Finlay (Columbus Crew SC), Juninho (LA Galaxy)
How to Watch:
Match time: 9 p.m. (ET)
Venue: Dick's Sporting Goods Park — Commerce City, Colo.
TV: FOX Sports 1, UniMas, and TSN (Canada)
Streaming: FOX Sports Go
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