Players That Will Shine in All-Star Match…
by Luis Eduardo Flores
With the official 26 player roster for the MLS All-Star match released, it’s time to predict which players will be part of the starting XI. It’s also important to predict which players bound to shine in the All-Star match.
Let’s start off with the forwards. All seven forwards are household names and they’re all worthy of being starting forwards. Common sense says to start off with the talent over star power. Since there is a lot of attacking power at the disposal, three forwards should be the best way to go. So; let’s go with Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders), Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto FC), and Cyle Larin (Orlando City SC). There is a good reason as to why the “bigger players” should not be part of the starting offense. The offense will be nothing without speed and power. If the offense consisted of a combination of Dempsey, Drogba (Montreal Impact), Villa (NYCFC), or Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes); you’re bound to witness a slow and tamed attack. Those players have age working against them; thus will affect their speed. So, you wouldn’t want to wear out the offense by the end of the 1st half. It’s better to start with two young bucks and one veteran to lead the offense. By the time when players need to be subbed out; depending the overall status of the game, there will be two options.
If the All-Stars have a solid lead, it might be better to remain conservative on offense in order to preserve the lead and push for more goals. If both teams are leveled (in score, performance, or both) it is when it will be best to bring out the rapid pace of younger players under the guidance of at least one vet on offense.
With the midfielders, we have a diverse lot. Some of these guys can provide more attacking options whereas others are best suited to serve as addition defense. Players like Kyle Beckerman (RSL) and Jermaine Jones (Colorado Rapids) are solid that defensive midfielders that will be able to slow the pace of Arsenal’s attack. You also have Pirlo (NYCFC); who is on point when it comes to free kicks. Sure, Pirlo is not an attacking player (at his age), but his free kicks and creativity will be big contributors to the offense. Kaka, Giovani dos Santos (LA Galaxy), and Sacha Kljestan (NYRB) will definitely give Arsenal’s midfield and defense a run for their money. Kaka doesn’t need an introduction; as we know how great is once he goes on the attack. If he’s not able to score on certain opportunities, he can be trusted to provide passes for new chances. Dos Santos is easily the best player on the team when it comes to ball control. Once he gets the ball, he is the type of player that is able to work around defenders to either score or cross the ball to an unmarked player. He is overall very reliable offensive midfielder. The same applies to Kljestan, whom is similar to dos Santos when it comes to ball control and passes. Unlike dos Santos, Kljestan is not easy to take down. Arsenal will want Per Mertesacker to stay close to Kljestan.
So on paper, this team will not be easy to take down. Arsenal will not be easy to take down, even with the absence of their best players. Arsenal will have their hands full…as long as the All-Stars do not focus on one player (ex: Villa) to do all of the work.
Prediction: MLS All-Stars 2 – Arsenal 1