MLS All-Stars vs. AS Roma
Wednesday, July 31; 6 p.m. PT; Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas
The day has come for the 18 MLS superstars who have converged on Kansas City for the 2013 MLS All-Star Game.
Some, like Sounders FC defender DeAndre Yedlin, are making their first appearance with the best in the league while others have become mainstays in the annual exhibition. Regardless of the experience level of the players, though, they all strive to have a good time in the festivities leading up to the match, then it’s all business once they take the field.
Tonight, they will meet Italy’s AS Roma, featuring U.S. Soccer star Michael Bradley after a run of five straight years facing clubs from the English Premier League.
Last year, Roma struggled to a sixth place finish in the Italian Serie A, but reached the final of Coppa Italia before falling 1-0 to Lazio.
Although the match is an exhibition, it is one that the players take seriously, knowing that a good result and well-played match can leave a lasting impression on the opponents. The All-Stars scored a comeback win over Chelsea last year at PPL Park – with Eddie Johnson netting the last winner – and after the match Thierry Henry took pride in the response from the Chelsea players.
“What was great about last year, when we won against Chelsea, was not that we won against Chelsea. But at the end of the game, the guys we played against came around and they were actually surprised at how we moved the ball around and really played football,” Henry said at a press conference on Monday. “So that’s one of the most important things that when we play Roma on Wednesday. Obviously we want to win, but if they turn around and say we saw some great players and excellent play, that speaks volumes for the league.”
In 10 matches against foes from outside MLS, the All-Stars hold a 7-2-1 record.
While Yedlin hasn’t played against European club competition, he did play in the FIFA U-20 World Cup this summer, gaining valuable experience against young talent from around the world. He also showed an ability to adapt to different styles in CONCACAF Champions League when he featured against Tigres and Santos Laguna from Mexico in the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds, scoring his first professional goal against Tigres to help Sounders FC become the first MLS club to oust a Mexican opponent in Champions League.
In the buildup for the match, he did some stargazing looking at the MLS roster for the match and was looking forward to playing with each and every name on the roster. During the week, though, he has learned that it is a mutual feeling.
“I’ve played with most of these guys, but DeAndre … this is the first time I’ve seen him,” Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler told MLSsoccer.com. “I want to get to know him, pick his brain a little. He’s very, very athletic and he’s an exciting player. He’s got a great future.”
Yedlin is the seventh Sounders FC player to make the All-Star team, joining Kasey Keller, Freddie Ljungberg, Fredy Montero, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Osvaldo Alonso and Eddie Johnson.