Now that’s it officially August, it’s only appropriate that we turn most of our attention to the MLS All-Star game that’ll take place at Providence Park on Aug.6.
The players that were selected to represent MLS will go up against one of biggest clubs in the world, Bayern Munich. The reigning Bundesliga champions will be led by Pep Guardiola. The Spanish coach should have all his players returning from the World Cup — including the World Cup final hero Mario Gotze — back in camp before the game.
Due to the gargantuan level of competition MLS All-Stars will be facing, Caleb Porter has to deploy his best lineup from the get-go.
Here is what Porter’s starting 11 might look like in the manager’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation.
Goalkeeper: Bill Hamid (DC United)
Hamid deserves to be the starting ‘keeper ahead of Nick Rimando mainly because he has played more games this season and his team has a better record. Rimando missed a handful of games this season because he was a member of Jurgen Klinsmann’s impressive World Cup team.
In the 16 games Hamid has featured in this season, the 23-year-old has been stupendously magnificent. He has conceded 17 goals, made 59 saves and kept four clean sheets. His sublime form has kept DC in the race for the supporters shield.
Defenders: Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City) Chad Marshall and Deandre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders) Michael Parkhurst (Columbus Crew)
Even though Matt Besler has only played 13 league games this season, he beats out his colleague Aurélien Collin because of he is better at reading the game. The standout performer in Brazil sees things before they happen. He uses his speed and size to neutralize forwards and he is very confident with the ball at his feet.
USMNT fans will argue that Omar Gonzalez should be a starter, but the truth of the matter is that the tall center doesn’t deserve to be an All-Star. The man who should be suiting up next to Besler is Marshall. The MLS veteran has been rock solid in the back for Seattle.
Even though he doesn’t get the attention he has earned, Marshall is one of the most important pieces in a team that has dominated MLS this year.
Yedlin sneaks into the starting lineup because he is the only right-back in the squad. The highly-rated 21-year-old hasn’t had his best season, but he is still a top MLS fullback. His speed and ability to gallop forward should unravel Bayern’s defense.
In his first season back, Parkhurst has adapted to the system in Columbus. His ability to play multiple defensive positions earns him a spot in the starting 11.
Holding midfielders: Osvaldo Alonso (Seattle Sounders) Michael Bradley (Toronto FC)
It would be shocking if Porter leaves Alonso on the bench. The former Cuban international is having another outstanding campaign with Seattle. The hard-tackling midfielder will slow down Bayern’s rampant offense and he’ll provide much-needed cover for the attacking players.
Coming off an abysmal showing in Brazil, Bradley will be eager to prove himself against world-class opponents. The bald midfielder will serve as the bridge that connects the defense with the attackers.
Attacking midfielders: Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers) Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls) Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounder)
With five goals and eight assists in 2014, Portland’s Argentine mastermind is guaranteed a spot in the starting lineup. Valeri is arguably the most creative player in MLS. He has the speed, size, footwork and vision to cause havoc for Bayern down the right hand side.
The plethora of center forwards in the squad means Dempsey will have to settle for a role in midfield. His dancing feet and cunning eye for goal makes him the perfect player to occupy the left flank. When he has the ball, he can cut inside and have a go at goal.
Even though he is known as a lethal finisher, Henry has shown that he is capable of playing the No.10 role. He currently leads MLS in assists, 10, because he has been the Red Bulls’ primary facilitator this season. In this position, he’ll have the freedom to roam the pitch and make timely runs into the box.
Center forward: Bradley Wright-Phillips (New York Red Bulls)
His selection is a no-brainer. The ex-Manchester City forward has found the back of the net 17 times this season. His speed, movement and grit should keep Bayern’s center backs occupied.
The chemistry he has with Henry means he’ll have at least two clean looks at goals.
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