Alexi Lalas’ idiot’s guide to MLS All-Stars v Chelsea
Chelsea take on an MLS All-Stars side in Philadelphia on Wednesday. As is customary in American sports, a rag-tag bunch of representatives from the league will come together for one night only. And on this occasion they’ll be facing the reigning European champions.
OTP doesn’t profess to be expert on all matters MLS – we once opted for wall cavity insulation when offered first pick in the draft – but we know a man who is.
So we got former USA defender Alexi Lalas to give us the lowdown on the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game.
The ones to watch
“I think you’ve got the usual suspects that most people will have heard of – Landon Donovan, David Beckham, Dwayne DeRosario – but if you’re looking for someone who’s having an incredible year who a lot of people in the UK won’t have heard of, I’d go for Chris Wondolowski.
“He’s on 17 goals and is leading scorer in the league. He plays for San Jose, but if you’re consistently scoring goals – whether that’s in San Jose or London, England – you deserve attention.”
“He’s a defensive midfielder for Seattle. He’s originally from Cuba and actually defected a few years ago.
“He’s been an absolute rock in the that holding defensive midfield position.”
“Dan Kennedy is a goalkeeper for Chivas USA. He’s had a very good year in what is a fairly weak team.”
Being an All-Star
“It’s not difficult to put club rivalries aside, as long as it’s not a personal issue, like if two guys have been fighting over a girl.
“When the whistle blows you put any rivalry to one side and become a team. What’s more difficult is to become cohesive in such a short spell of time together.
“You’re up against a team who work together regularly and have an understanding of how they want to play. Even though you could argue Chelsea have had a lot of changes and are in pre-season, that’s still a big advantage.”
The bigger MLS picture
“Any All-Star game is about recognition. All the players will want to put out a message. A lot of people will be watching the game in England and a lot more will see the score the day after the match. It’s about putting out a good message about a league that sometimes doesn’t get the attention it deserves.”
The Beckham experiment
“I played a small part in bringing David Beckham to LA Galaxy and I don’t regret it for a second. It’s been an important platform for the league and I think the further away we get from it, the more important it will come to be seen, both on and off the field.
“If you look at the players who have come since, like Thierry Henry, or off the field in terms of soccer being valued as a business, it opened a lot of people’s eyes.”