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.


Arsenal to become eighth British club to face MLS All-Stars

English Premier League giants Arsenal have officially been announced as the 2016 MLS All-Star opponents and will become the eighth British club to face off against the best in MLS when they take to the field on July 28 at San Jose Earthquakes’ Avaya Stadium.

The Gunners will continue the tradition of the MLS All-Stars facing off against Premier League opposition, with Fulham, West Ham, Chelsea, Everton and Manchester United all previously playing in the game.

Celtic also played in the showpiece match back in 2007, while Arsenal’s fierce rivals Tottenham took on the best in MLS last year, coming out as the losers thanks to goals from Kaka and David Villa in a 2-1 win for the All-Stars.

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With more talent arriving in MLS every year, the All-Stars should only get stronger and that will mean Arsenal are set for a stiff preseason test.

The MLS All-Stars have beaten Bayern Munich and Tottenham over the last two years and would love to make it three on the bounce by beating the Gunners.

Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger, believes the game will serve them well as they prepare for the 2016/17 season. As well as playing the All-Star game in San Jose, Arsenal will play Mexican side Chivas de Guadalajara at LA Galaxy’s StubHub Center on July 31.

“Preseason is a critically important time for us and we are delighted to be coming to San Jose and Los Angeles to participate in the 2016 MLS All-Star Game and to play Chivas,” Wenger said in a statement.

“We have tremendous support across America and enjoyed our visit to New York in the summer of 2014 when we played the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena. We are all looking forward to this summer’s trip as we prepare for our 2016-2017 season.”

Who do you think will win the 2016 MLS All-Star game?

Gerrard and Lampard to face Spurs as 13 MLS All-Stars announced

There’s just over two weeks to go until the 2015 MLS All-Star game in Colorado takes place as the best in Major League Soccer will take on Tottenham Hotspur at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Wednesday, July 29.

And now 13 of the 22 players likely to lineup against Spurs in this year’s All-Star game have been revealed, with league newcomers Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard both included despite not yet making an MLS appearance.

Lampard and Gerrard were both named to the All-Star team as as MLS Commissioner Don Garber’s picks for the game. That could see the English midfielders play together for the first time since the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

The Chelsea and Liverpool legends have made a combined total of 58 appearances against Spurs, scoring 12 times against the Lilywhites.

The Fan XI was also announced on Monday along with the Commissioner’s picks as 11 of the best have been put forward for the All-Star game.

2015 MLS All-Star Fan XI: Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo), Kaka (Orlando City), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Benny Feilhaber (Sporting Kansas City), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City), David Villa (New York City FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders) & Obafemi Martins (Seattle Sounders)

Obafemi Martins was selected by the AT&T/EA SPORTS™ MLS All-Star “More Than a Vote” Tournament in which EA SPORTS FIFA 15 players scored more than one million goals with the Nigerian frontman, seeing him earn his place on the All-Star game through the same process as last year.

There will be three players making their All-Star debuts as superstars Kaka and David Villa will be joined by Benny Feilhaber, who is enjoying a phenomenal campaign with SKC.

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The biggest surprise from the Fan XI is the absence of Toronto’s Sebastian Giovinco, who has been the best player in the league this season, netting 11 times in 17 games to be placed as the second highest goalscorer after 19 weeks.

The ‘Atomic Ant’ is more than likely to be announced in the final squad that Colorado Rapids and this year’s MLS All-Star head coach Pablo Mastroeni reveals on Saturday.

Lampard and Gerrard will definitely be included in the 22-man squad, while those selected in the Fan XI are expected to make up 11 of the remaining 20 places. Being named to the Fan XI doesn’t guarantee a spot on the final roster but is taken into strong consideration.

Who do you want to see make the final MLS All-Star squad of those not included in the Fan XI?

MLS News Roundup – Thursday January 22

There’s been a lot going on in the world of Major League Soccer over the past 24 hours so it’s a good time to round up all the news in one place.

Six of the 20 MLS clubs return to preseason training today and the 2015 season is drawing ever closer.

Here are the top stories you need to know about:

1) Colorado Rapids will host the 2015 MLS All-Star Game

The MLS All-Stars are going back to Denver for the second time ever as the Colorado Rapids’ Dick’s Sporting Goods Park will host the 2015 game. Rapids coach Pablo Maestroni will coach a team of stars that is likely to include new faces Kaka and David Villa to name just a couple. An opponent has not yet been named but we’re expecting a big name as Chelsea, AS Roma and Bayern Munich have taken on the All-Stars in the past three seasons.

2) Michael Bradley says MLS free agency is worth a player strike if it comes to it

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Major League Soccer is currently in negotiations with the MLS Players’ Union over a new collective bargaining agreement as the current one is set to expire at the end of the month. One of the key issues being discussed is player free agency and Toronto FC midfielder Michael Bradley has said it is an issue worth going on strike over, if an agreement cannot be reached.

“We want what’s best for the league, we want to help this league grow and continue to push forward in every possible way,” Bradley said. “But it is time for some changes in the way that things are done and I think that in the end we’ll find a good way to get all that done.”

3) Michael Essien on FC Dallas radar but midfielder rejects first offer

AC Milan midfielder Michael Essien is set to move again. His current contract expires at the end of the season and Milan are not willing to offer him a new deal. The former Chelsea man does not want to return to the Premier League and is keen on a switch to MLS. FC Dallas have made an offer to the Ghanaian but he has reportedly rejected that.

4) Fabian Espindola rewarded by DC United with Designated Player contract

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Fabian Espindola was arguably DC United’s best player last season and the club have rewarded him for a fine 2014, in which he scored 11 goals and picked up 9 assists, by giving him a Designated Player contract. DC United General Manager Dave Kasper said: “Fabian is coming off his best year in MLS last season and he deserves to be a Designated Player. He is in the prime of his career and we look forward to his future contributions to our club.” However, Espindola won’t be available to play for the first six games of 2015 as he will serve a suspension picked up for pushing an official in the MLS Playoffs.

5) Montreal Impact confirm signing of Belgian international Laurent Ciman

The Montreal Impact have bolstered their defence with the addition of 29-year-old centre-back Laurent Ciman from Standard Liege. Ciman has spent his entire career in Belgium and was a part of the national team’s World Cup squad last summer. Better still, Ciman will not occupy a Designated Player contract in Montreal and he will be a key leader for the team in 2015.

6) Vancouver Whitecaps sign former Timbers defender Pa Modou Kah

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Another Canadian club have made a move to strengthen their backline as the Vancouver Whitecaps have signed Pa Modou Kah. The former Portland Timbers centre-back will bring plenty of experience to the side and head coach Carl Robinson thinks he is an important addition: “Kah is an athletic center back with a wealth of experience, both in MLS and abroad. Not only does he bring experience, but also great character, and that will be equally important to our team.”

7) FC Dallas acquire Toronto FC midfielder Kyle Bekker in trade for allocation money

Toronto FC have parted ways with Canadian midfielder Kyle Bekker as the 24-year-old has joined FC Dallas in exchange for allocation money. Bekker made 29 appearances over two seasons with Toronto after being selected with the third overall pick in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft.

8) Bradley Wright-Phillips refusing to change despite everything else doing so around him

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A lot has changed in New York since the end of the 2014 season. Thierry Henry has hung up his boots. Mike Petke has been fired and replaced by Jesse Marsch. But Bradley Wright-Phillips won’t be changing, despite the fact that he’ll be playing with the added pressure of a Designated Player contract this year. The 29-year-old tied the MLS single season goalscoring record in 2014 with 27 goals and he’s going to go about things the same way in 2015.

“I had an interview [with the Red Bulls] at the end of the season, I told them, ‘Don’t expect any wonders. You’re going to get what you got from me this season.’ I don’t go into a game without running hard, working hard, trying to score goals. That’s exactly what I’ll do this season,” he said on Tuesday. “If they’re expecting something more, they will be disappointed, I can let you know that now. If you are expecting me to be Thierry Henry, you will be disappointed.”