MLS Preview and Prediction: MLS All-Stars vs Arsenal

Competition: 2016 MLS All-Star Game – MLS All-Stars vs. Arsenal FC

Stadium: Avaya Stadium, San Jose – Thursday, July 28 – 19:30 ET (00:30 BST)

Live Coverage: Sky Sports 2 HD in the UK – ESPN in the USA.

Match Preview

The 2016 MLS All-Star game takes place on Thursday night as the best in MLS take on Premier League side Arsenal at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, California.

The All-Star game has become a real showpiece event for Major League Soccer and also provides a really tough preseason test for some of the top sides in Europe.

This year, Arsenal will try and beat the MLS All-Stars in what is their first ever appearance in the game. The Gunners are the eighth Premier League side to take on Major League Soccer’s finest talent.

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Last season’s All-Star game saw the MLS All-Stars beat Tottenham 2-1 in Colorado, thanks to early goals from Kaka and David Villa. Both of those stars are against in the squad this year, along with several other global stars.

San Jose Earthquakes head coach Dominic Kinnear will take control of the All-Stars for Thursday’s game – the second time he has been tasked with the job having done so in 2009 when MLS lost on penalties to Everton.

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The All-Stars are looking for a third-straight win, following 2-1 victories over Bayern Munich and Spurs over the past two campaigns and will now be fully focused on adding Arsenal to that list.

Arsene Wenger’s men have only played one preseason game so far this year, drawing 1-1 away at Lens and are up for a real test against MLS stars at peak fitness in the middle of their domestic season.

The Gunners’ last trip to the USA ended in defeat as the New York Red Bulls sealed a 1-0 friendly win in July 2014 and they will be hoping for more success this time around.

Arsenal don’t have first-team stars such as Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny as they are all still recovering from international tournaments, but there is still a talented squad at Wenger’s disposal for Thursday’s clash.

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Team News

MLS All-Star squad: Defenders Matt Besler and Liam Ridgewell have both been ruled out of the All-Star game through injury.

GK – David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union)

DF: Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), Laurent Ciman (Montreal Impact), Andrew Farrell (New England Revolution), Keegan Rosenberry (Philadelphia Union), Jelle Van Damme (LA Galaxy), Brandon Vincent (Chicago Fire), Kendall Waston (Vancouver Whitecaps FC)

MF: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Mauro Diaz (FC Dallas), Giovani dos Santos (LA Galaxy), Jermaine Jones (Colorado Rapids), Kaka (Orlando City SC), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Andrea Pirlo (New York City FC), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC), Ignacio Piatti (Montreal Impact)

FW: Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Didier Drogba (Montreal Impact), Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto FC), Cyle Larin (Orlando City SC), David Villa (New York City FC), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

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Arsenal squad: Several star players have not made the trip, as they are being given extended rest time following their participation in Euro 2016.

GK: Petr Cech, David Ospina, Emiliano Martinez

DF: Hector Bellerin, Krystian Bielik, Calum Chambers, Mathieu Debuchy, Kieran Gibbs, Rob Holding, Nacho Monreal

MF: Santi Cazorla, Francis Coquelin, Mohamed Elneny, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Chris Willock, Jack Wilshere, Granit Xhaka, Gedion Zelalem

FW: Chuba Akpom, Joel Campbell, Alex Iwobi, Theo Walcott

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Key Points

MLS All-Star’s last five: L/W/L/W/W

Arsenal’s last five preseason games: L/W/W/W/W

Key Stat: The MLS All-Stars have not kept a clean sheet in any of the last eight games, conceding a total of 19 goals over the last eight years.

Key Player: Kaka – The Brazilian superstar will captain the All-Stars for the second-straight season on Thursday night. He led by example last year, scoring a penalty on his way to being named MVP. If the Arsenal defence fails to keep Kaka quiet, they could be in trouble.

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Score Prediction

MLS All-Stars 3-2 Arsenal – Goals are to be expected on Thursday night in what should be a memorable contest. Arsenal are not at full strength but do have a strong enough squad to expect to win this game. However, the best in MLS have proven to be stiff opponents over the last two seasons, beating Bayern Munich and Tottenham. A third-straight All-Star win is expected here.


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