Wednesday night in Commerce City, Colorado the MLS All Stars defeated the Tottenham Hotspurs 2-1 in a lively and enjoyable contest. Here then is a special GotSoccer MLS Big – 5: All Star Edition
1) Dempsey is Special
Playing alongside world class stars Kaka and David Villa, Clint Dempsey looked right at home on Wednesday night. Although Deuce has never achieved anything comparable to that of World Cup winner Villa and former World Player of the Year Kaka during his career, Deuce is the nearest thing the U.S. MNT has to that type of attacking player.
The former Tottenham and Fulham man has said in the past that he wishes that he could have started his pro career earlier.
With no disrespect to Landon Donovan, still the best male U.S. player ever, I can’t help think that if Dempsey had signed with a club like Bayer Leverkusen at 16 years of age like Donovan did, well we’ll never know.
Dempsey has had a fine career for an American soccer player and will likely break Donovan’s career mark for most U.S. goals before he hangs up his boots. It’s just that seeing him on Wednesday night in the company of players like Kaka and Villa makes me wonder if Dempsey could have accomplished even more.
2) U.S. Center Backs – Yikes!
After the desultory performances of Jurgen Klinsmann’s newly anointed number one center back pairing of John Brooks and Ventura Alvarado in the Gold Cup, many U.S. MNT watchers were anxious to see how Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez, formerly Klinsmann’s Golden Boys, would fare against Tottenham on Wednesday night.
Not well, as it turned out. Besler, in particular had a calamitous evening, or he would have if not for keeper Nick Rimando’s heroics.
Gonzalez wasn’t as bad, but he wasn’t great either. On Harry Kane’s goal, Besler slipped in a manner hauntingly reminiscent of his World Cup swoon against Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku to allow Kane a free run at Gonzalez.
Gonzalez backpedaled as he awaited help from Besler or another teammate. That help never came, but Gonzalez just kept retreating until even Rimando couldn’t help.
Of course we know that Wednesday night’s All Star showcase was only an exhibition game and Brooks and Alvarado screwed up when it meant something. So let’s not count out Gonzalez and Besler just yet.
3) The Nick and Harry Show
With 21 goals last season Harry Kane finished second in the Premiership behind only Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero, who had 26, becoming Spurs top attraction along the way.
More than a few fans came out to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park Wednesday night to see the 22 year old England striker score a goal or two against the MLS All Stars. Kane got one, but if not for 36 year old U.S. MNT backup keeper Nick Rimando, it could have been more.
The Real Salt Lake veteran was bested once by a brilliant Kane strike, but that was it, as Rimando’s first half heroics played a big part in the All Stars 2-1 victory over Spurs.
4) So What Did We Learn About Yedlin’s Future With Spurs?
Not much, I think. Yedlin came in as a wide right sided midfielder, only after Spurs coach Mauricio Pochettino had used Kevin Trippier to replace Kyle Walker at right fullback.
That move leads to the inevitable conclusion that the former Seattle Sounder is behind the ex Burnley man in any competition to back up Walker.
It might also be assumed that Pochettino now sees Yedlin as a winger, as Yedlin’s national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann seems to.
Yedlin put in a decent, if conservative performance against his former All Star mates, making the safe pass and playing like someone determined not to screw up in front of his new coach.
Afterwards Pochettino said what he said beforehand. If Yedlin plays well for the the next few weeks of the pre-season, he can make the team.
At the moment the U.S. international looks like a longshot to see serious time this season with Spurs. There has been loan talk, but if Yedlin wants to stick with the North London side he will have break his self imposed (?) shackles and show Pochettino the rampaging winger that turned heads in Brazil last summer.
5) Change the Format?
It wouldn’t be the first time. Not even close. The league began with an East vs West format typical to most American All Star games.
MLS has also tried U.S. MLS players vs World MLS players and the MLS All Stars even faced the U.S. MNT in 2002, before settling on the All Stars vs international club format that we know now.
That format has been in place uninterrupted since 2005. Some think that now is time to go back the East vs West All Star Game.
The league is strong enough, the theory goes, to get by without the attraction of a foreign team. And with MLS boasting the likes of Kaka, Villa, Gerrard, Lampard, Pirlo, Giovinco, etc. that may be true.
In the afterglow of last night’s victory a couple of previous proponents of a format change, MLS coach Pablo Mastroeni and Wednesday’s Man of the Match, Kaka changed their minds.
Both enjoyed the game so much that they would like things to stay as they are. It sounds like a conversation that is just beginning.