Major League Soccer hosts its midseason showcase match between the League’s top players and some of the best of the world. This will be the ninth time that the MLS All-Star Game has followed this format — the most intriguing All-Star spectacle in North American professional sports. Last year, the MLS All-Stars lost to Manchester United of the English Premier League at Red Bull Arena in front of a sellout crowd and a record number of television and online viewers.
In addition to the MLS All-Star match on July 25, Major League Soccer will host various events during the week. The 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game will receive worldwide media coverage as journalists travel to the Philadelphia area for the event. I got a chance to chat with former US Star and soccer analyst Alexi Lalas about the AT&T/MLS All star game, MLS and US Soccer as a whole.
Booredatwork: Hi Alexi. How are you?
Alexi: Good thank you.
Booredatwork: Alexi how did you get involved with AT&T with the AT&T/MLS All Star game?
Alexi: I have had a personal relationship with AT&T over the years as a customer, so it was easy for me to see how valued their partnership with the MLS would be and how that can help boost the presence of MLS soccer in the US.
Booredatwork: What do you expect to see in the 2012 AT&T/MLS All-Star game between the MLS All-Stars and Chelsea FC?
Alexi: I expect the MLS All-Stars to come out and showcase how strong the MLS is and the quality of the game of US soccer. I also expect MLS Players to accept and showcase the growth of MLS soccer and be good representative of the sport in US. I also expect Chelsea to show a new form after winning the Champions League and few changes to their rooster.
Booredatwork: Will we see Chelsea stars like Fernando Torres and Eden Hazard in the Chelsea FC lineup?
Alexi: I do expect to see both players, but what will be interesting is to see who will take over from Drogba as the go to striker for Chelsea. Torres can be that player, had a good Euro champions even though he didn’t have much playing time. Eden is a very good young player in fantastic form, it will be great to see what he does on the field on Wed.
Booredatwork: has soccer hit critical mass in U.S., do you feel like we’re at a tipping point?
Alexi: I think MLS Stock is heading in the right direction, considering the league has been around for 19 years, there is culture within the sport that is something best experienced. Also the amount of talent within the MLS has improved and is continuing to grow yearly within the league.
Booredatwork: do you think the current structure of US youth soccer can compete globally?
Alexi: the infrastructure is in place, what sis needed in finding and cultivating the talent; that is progressing well, be it though local soccer academy’s or farm system with MLS teams. The talent cultivation is there and will progress as time moves on.
Booredatwork: What do you say to people who say US soccer has no style?
Alexi: First and foremost, US soccer has always started from a defensive standpoint, ensure we have a solid back four and great goalkeeping as is event with past goalies like Casey Keller and present us goalie Tim Howard. A commitment to set-pieces both offense and defense; and blending that with skill players and a will to win. Bring forth a unique style that is truly a presentation of America and its diverse culture.
Alexi: this is something I think coach Jürgen Klinsmann understands, though people have to understand it takes time. even though we want to see the US win. Ensure that that culture permeates through the team is very important to move US soccer forward.
Booredatwork: Alexi on final question, what happened to the trademark hair and goatee?
Alexi: hahaha, I loved the look and I am honored that people still remember the hair and goatee. Though it looked like I rolled out of bed with the hair-do, I can tell you it took a lot of work, gel and scrunches to make that happen.
Booredatwork: Well thank you for you time Alexi, who do you think will win on wed/
Alexi: Thank you. I do expect the Chelsea to come out and play hard. the are Euro club Champions. But I believe the MLS All-Stars will use this as a statement game to really showcase the state of US soccer. So I will say MLS All-Stars will win. Thank you
There you have it, I had a fun time chatting with Alexi and he did share a lot of insights into soccer and the MLS at large. Soccer fan or not, I suggest you check out the festivities of the AT&T/ MLS All-Star game details are below and enjoy.
WHEN: Wednesday, July 25, 2012, 8:30 p.m. ET
TELEVISION: The 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game will be broadcast live on ESPN2, TeleFutura and in Canada on TSN and RDS. ESPN International will make the game available live in more than 100 countries. In addition, the All-Star Game will be carried online and on smartphones and tablets via ESPN3 and WatchESPN in the United States.
WHERE: The 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star game will be held at PPL Park in Chester, Pa. The soccer-specific, waterfront stadium opened in June, 2010 and has a stunning view of the Commodore Barry Bridge just 10 miles south of Philadelphia International Airport. The stadium seats 18,500 for Union games and features 29 luxury suites, a full service club restaurant, sideline roofs, and expansive promenade areas outside the stadium.
ALL-STARS: The All-Star First XI will be selected via fan voting after a media panel narrows the field of eligible players for the fan ballot. Two players will be selected by Commissioner Don Garber, and the remainder of the gameday roster will be selected by the All-Star head coach Ben Olsen.
OPPONENT: In addition to honoring the best players in MLS, the All-Star game has also featured world-famous clubs such as Manchester United (2010 & 2011), Everton FC (2009), Chelsea FC (2006), and Chivas de Guadalajara (2003). In 2012, the MLS All-Stars will welcome back Chelsea FC. This year’s game will serve as a rematch of the 2006 event, when a sellout crowd at Chicago’s TOYOTA Park witnessed the MLS All-Star team defeat star-studded Chelsea FC 1-0 on a goal by Dwayne De Rosario.
Chelsea FC boasts a lineup of international stars such as Frank Lampard (England), Fernando Torres (Spain), Petr Cech (Czech Republic), Florent Malouda (France), Juan Mata (Spain) and John Terry (England). Founded in 1905, Chelsea FC have won the Premier League title four times, the FA Cup six times, and the UEFA Europa