2017 MLS All Star Game Recap
Who said soccer will never catch on in the United States?
If the 2017 MLS All-Star game is an indicator, the most popular sport in the world is indeed growing in popularity among American sports fans. The 22nd annual Major League Soccer (MLS) All-Star game took place at Soldier Field in Chicago on August 2, 2017. Sold out long before the event, the match between European powerhouse Real Madrid and the best MLS has to offer ended in a regulation tie. MVP Borja Mayoral led Real Madrid to a well-deserved victory.
Bad Start for MLS
Real Madrid came out of the gate as the aggressors, with the MLS all stars constantly on their heels playing defense. The bad start was compounded by a separated shoulder injury suffered by Greg Garza of Atlanta United. Real Madrid turned the poor start by the MLS all stars into a 45-minute onslaught that should have given Real Madrid a commanding lead heading into the locker room at the half. However, several errant shots on a mostly open goal kept the all star match even. The MLS all stars had one point blank attempt in the first half against Real Madrid goalie Keylor.
Real Madrid, which is touring the United States, rested several of the squad’s starters in the first half.
More Action in the Second Half
Starters for Real Madrid returned to action at the start of the second half of the all star match. Dani Ceballos threaded a perfect pass to an open Mayoral, who nailed his kick into the top corner at the 59 minute mark of the match. The Spanish team should have easily put away the match in the second half, but more than 50% of the 30 shots taken missed the goal.
Real Madrid claimed more than 55% of possession time and for the entire match, won 61 duels to the 49 duels won by the MLS all stars.
After surviving the dominant display put on by Real Madrid, the MLS all stars were given a second chance to win the match in the penalty kicks session. However, Dom Dwyer’s penalty kick was saved and Giovani dos Santos nailed the crossbar, when he had a wide open net to score. Real Madrid scored on all four penalty kicks, with Marcelo drilling his penalty kick past MLS all star goalie Stefan Frei.
Looking Ahead to 2018
The dramatic ending to the 2017 MLS All-Star games has already reached the status as one of the biggest events in MLS history. Television viewership set a record, as more than two million American and Canadian viewers watched the event. The 2017 MLS All-Star game surpassed the viewership of the 2011 game, which featured English powerhouse Manchester United. Broadcasted in more than 170 countries, the MLS All-Star game appears to be the one event that attracts casual soccer fans.
This brings us to speculating about the 2018 MLS All-Star game. Although MLS has not selected the host city for the 2018 event, speculation is hot as to which European team will oppose the roster of MLS all stars. More than 61,000 fans attended the 2017 rendition of the all star game. If MLS wants to maintain high attendance and set another viewership record, the league must invite a world class European soccer club that possesses strong star appeal.