Three thoughts from the MLS All-Star Game
With the Premier League season just around the bend and one of its top teams, Tottenham Hotspur, facing the MLS All-Star squad Wednesday in Denver, we picked out three thoughts from a combination of the two sides after an interesting contest.
1. Harry Kane will be the main man again for Tottenham this year
Kane’s performance in the All-Star Game picked up right where it left off last season. During his 75-plus minutes on the pitch, the most of any Tottenham player, Kane was the man on the end of just about every attack Spurs brought forward. In the opening exchanges, he nearly gave Tottenham the lead, only being denied by a brilliant save from Nick Rimando, a sign of things to come. Kane continued to latch on to the long balls and crosses, but Rimando was up to the task and kept the English international at bay. That was, until the 37th minute. The forward showed why he is so highly touted across the pond with a powerful strike which beat Rimando from distance following a defensive slip. Though he didn’t have to do a ton of work to get into the position, Kane showed his class and his ability to score from distance, which he did with frequency a season ago. Though Spurs have gotten stronger behind him with some key transfers, there’s no doubt the weight of North London will be riding on Kane’s shoulders again this year.
2. The MLS talent pool is growing, at least at the top end
In the first half of the fixture, the MLS and Tottenham both sent strong teams to the field. It might have been a little unexpected, but the All-Star starters were able to control stretches of the opening 45 minutes, take the lead, and ultimately hand the baton off to the substitutes, who saw the game out. Those starters, most notably Kaka, David Villa and Clint Dempsey, came at the English contenders with vigor and gave the Spurs backline trouble for most of the first half. Two of those names, Kaka and Villa, combined for the MLS’s second goal, after the first came off of a
penalty following a Kaka corner kick. The second half was less eventful, but both entities sent out their B-squads to play a half of scoreless stalemate. More importantly for the MLS, and its executives, is that for the second year in a row, the All-Star team played well against top European competition and came out on top. Furthermore, this year, the MLS did so without a plethora of its stars in the line-up. The list of players who but did not play is long, highlighted by Sebastian Giovinco, Frank Lampard, and Steven Gerrard, all of whom could have bolstered the MLS’s ranks and have potentially turned the game into a one-sided affair. It’s clear the foreign additions have increased the talent of the players on the pitch in just about every fixture, and that’s a great sign for American soccer fans.
3. Will Tottenham be ready for the regular season?
The MLS All-Star fixture was the first game against a quality squad Spurs have played this offseason, and the BPL begins next weekend. Furthermore, the only game Spurs played in America was the fixture in Colorado, so the club now has to quickly turn around and fly back to Europe, affecting the players’ ability to train, as well as their internal clocks. On top of all that travel, Tottenham are playing the Audi Cup in Berlin next week. On Tuesday, they face Real Madrid, and then play either Bayern Munich or AC Milan on Wednesday. Though it’s always good to compete against the top European competition, Spurs have to play two games in as many days, which will deplete their whole squads’ legs just days before the opening kickoff. To make matters worse, Spurs open with one of the toughest tests of the year, a meeting with Manchester United at Old Trafford. And despite having months to prepare, Mauricio Pochettino is running out of time to get his troops in line for a massive fixture. If they don’t go to Manchester ready to fight, it’s more than likely going to be a rough beginning to the new season for Spurs.