The MLS All-Star Team roster is finalized. And it’s time now to finalize the playing line-up. However, it is difficult to fix to a particular line, given the fact that there are too many options Veljko Paunovic has when it comes to center midfield and center forward positions.
Here is an effort to pick up the probable line-up Veljko could look at during their epic face off against the European giant Real Madrid.
Tim Howard (COL)
Not only is the Colorado Rapids star Tim Howard a perennial fan favorite, but also far and away the MLS backstop most experienced at facing top-level opposition. His highly vocal organizational style should also help what will be a patchwork defense. Fun fact: Despite facing Howard nine times while both were in England, Gareth Bale has yet to log a goal or assist when playing against him.
RB – Hernan Grana (DAL)
The MLS All-Stars are going to need a wily defender with decent speed and a bit of a physical edge to deal with Real’s influential left side. FC Dallas right back Hernan Grana fits the bill.
CB – Matt Hedges (DAL)
Believe it or not, 2016 MLS Defender of the Year Matt Hedges has yet to feature in an All-Star Game. In addition to possessing a strong working relationship with Grana, he can help Howard keep things cohesive at the back. The FC Dallas defender should also be highly motivated to impress after a lackluster showing in his recent USMNT cap.
CB – Johan Kappelhof (CHI)
With the more cerebral Hedges in the line up, MLS All-Star head coach Veljko Paunovic is going to need an athletic defender to partner with him, and would do well to look toward a regular on his Chicago Fire backline: Johan Kappelhof is among the league leaders in pass interceptions and he can move the ball safely out of the back when he steals it.
LB – DaMarcus Beasley (HOU)
With 24 Champions League games and 11 World Cup matches to his credit, Houston Dynamo veteran DaMarcus Beasley is no stranger to top-shelf opponents. Beasley, who helped the MLS All-Stars defeat Tottenham two summers ago, will definitely keep his wits about him against the Galacticos.
DM – Michael Bradley (TOR)
Like Beasley and Howard, US national team skipper Michael Bradley is well-versed at battling big players and teams, able to direct traffic and mind the metronome, giving the MLS attackers a chance to shine.
CM – Bastian Schweinsteiger (CHI)
Add the Chicago Fire superstar to the list of MLS All-Stars comfortable playing against world powers. Twice, Bastian Schweinsteiger helped Bayern Munich eliminate Real in Champions League knockout ties. In this side, he can help Bradley slow rushes through the middle and turn defense into offense.
RM – Miguel Almiron (ATL)
Though the Atlanta United playmaker Miguel Almiron has spent most of his career operating as a No. 10 or on the left flank, his defensive acuity can help Grana control the Bale/Marcelo tandem. Of course, once he wins the ball back, Almiron is quite adept at spring the break.
AM – Sebastian Giovinco (TOR)
Sebastian Giovinco can act as an outlet for Toronto FC mate Bradley, and then wheel and deal into the attack. The Atomic Ant is as adept as scoring as he is at teeing up others and provides yet another double-threat in the final third. The elusive Italian wins a boatload of dangerous free kicks around the box and strikes a nasty dead ball.
LW – David Villa (NYC)
Former La Liga star David Villa, who scored the All-Stars’ winning goal against Tottenham in 2015, is a long time Real Madrid annoyance. He’s notched 10 goals and six helpers in 28 games against them (including three and two in six meetings while working on left wing). While I’d expect Almiron to provide plenty of defensive help on his flank, Villa should act as more of a pressure valve/attack igniter on his. He should also help keep Real right back Dani Carvajal on his heels.
F – Jozy Altidore (TOR)
Toronto FC man Jozy Altidore can tire the Real defense, softening them up for a super sub like Nemanja Nikolic. With Bradley and usual running mate Giovinco in this line-up, he’ll also complete a Toronto FC express lane up the gut. In this group, Altidore’s passing ability and proclivity for combo play can really pay off.
Though, it is not certain that this probable line-up would play, what is certain is a 90 minutes display of complete madness engulfing the arena on August 03, 2017. Experience the excitement live and exclusive on DSport.