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All-Star

31 July 1:25 pm

Ever wonder what the days are like in the life of MLSers leading up to matches?

Well, now you can find out. Major League Soccer and NBC have announced a new, day-in-the-life series, MLS 36. The program – which follows in the footsteps of fellow NBC Sports Network series Fight Night 36, IndyCar 36 and NHL 36 – takes viewers behind the scenes for a player's 36 hours prior to kickoff.

San Jose Earthquakes star and golden-boot leading Chris Wondolowski wil be the first league player highlighted, when his preparation for the 2012 MLS All-Star Game will air on Sunday, August 5 at 9:30 pm ET on the NBC Sports Network. The second installment is set to air the following Friday, August 10 when Seattle's Fredy Montero's preparations are recorded ahead of the Sounders' World Football Challenge match vs. Chelsea on July 18.

Additional episodes and players of MLS 36 will be announced at a later date. Which player to the right would you want to see featured? Or, let us know who else you would want in the comments below.

26 July 10:42 am

C’était la fête à Philadelphie ce mercredi soir, et en plus d’un superbe feu d’artifice au-dessus de PPL Park, les spectateurs ont été gâtés par cinq buts, de nombreux retournements de situation et une victoire de la sélection de la MLS contre Chelsea (voir résumé ci-dessous).

Certes, les meilleurs talents de notre compétition avaient déjà battu le prestigieux club anglais en 2006, mais les Londoniens ont été impressionnés par les progrès de la MLS en six ans. Leur entraîneur Roberto Di Matteo reconnaît que son équipe était la moins affûtée des deux mais accorde du mérite aux joueurs de MLS (voir son point de presse en vidéo).

Chelsea a manqué de créativité en milieu de terrain et les rares fois où Lukaku a été en position dangereuse, Jay DeMerit a sorti l’intervention salvatrice. Alors qu’il devait quitter ses partenaires en cours de partie, le défenseur de Vancouver a joué tout le match suite à la blessure d’Aurélien Collin.

Après l’ouverture du score par Wondolowski, Terry et Lampard ont donné l’avance aux visiteurs. Pontius a égalisé et Johnson a fixé les chiffres à 3-2 dans les arrêts de jeu : il attribue une part du mérite à Ben Olsen (vidéo des réactions dans le camp des vainqueurs).

25 July 9:52 pm

Halftime analysis from Chelsea TV: "It feels quite like an exhibition, doesn't it?"

Yes, yes it does.

The MLS All-Star Game is great for the pomp and pagaentry, for the chance to see the guys who are ostensibly the league's best gathered in one spot, and for the chance to heckle one European superstar or another (this year's target, courtesy of the Sons of Ben, appeared to be Frank Lampard. Bold choice that didn't quite work out).

But just as in other leagues, the All-Star Game doesn't quite run in the red. Players have a little more time and space, tackles are a little less meaningful and complaints to the ref are a little less vociferous than they'd otherwise be.

Bear all that in mind when trying to delve into the 90 minutes we just saw, and don't be too firm in the conclusions you've drawn.

With that caveat, here are three things we learned from the 3-2 MLS victory...

Ozzie Alonso can play in any league in the world

Alonso comes up short vs. a number of MLS d-mids in terms of passing ability. He's not a time-keeper like Kyle Beckerman or Dax McCarty, and when he gets frustrated, he'll play it long a bit too often. He never would have hit that pass to Eddie Johnson for the game-winner.

Many coaches would make that sacrifice, however, for his ability to win the second ball. Alonso is simply phenomenal at it, whether it's against Chivas USA or Chelsea FC.

Basketball coaches talk about guys like Kevin Love or — two decades ago — Dennis Rodman, and their "Rebounding Gene." They just, somehow, know how to read the shot, the angle, the momentum, the spacing of players, and get themselves into the right spot to grab the ball.

That's the nearest approximation I can make for Alonso's ability to gobble up everything in midfield. It's uncanny, like a mutant superpower. And while he may not be as well-rounded as other d-mids out there, his ability in this particular area does so much in terms of freeing the rest of the midfield to play higher that it's, at this point, incalculable.

With all that in mind, I'm kind of stunned that no Euro team has made the Sounders an offer they can't refuse. Having that one world-class skill out there would have a multiplying effect on the abilities of the rest of the players on any team. Period.

With All-Star teams, simpler is better

Ben Olsen started his side out in a 4-4-1-1 and basically kept them there all night. It didn't exactly make for elegant build-up (especially against Chelsea's 4-2-3-1), but in those rare moments that the field opened up and the All-Stars got moving forward, opportunities for flowing, aggressive counterattacks were there. That's about the best you can ask for from a team playing with one day of practice under their belt.

Defensively, it was even more important to keep it simple. Chelsea had their chances, sure, but it's worth noting that their goals came off a set piece and a goalkeeper error. That can happen no matter the formation.

Point is, keeping it simple was Olsen's way of keeping his team from making the errors that have plagued the All-Stars the last two times out. It's also why most tactical experimentation takes place at the club level, where coaches have their players for 10 months out of 12, rather than at the national team level, where the best most managers can hope for is a two-week camp. Can't reinvent the wheel on a deadline.

Balance is the most important physical asset for any soccer player

We didn't really learn this today (or the other two, to be honest), but it bears repeating here anyway.

Too often we get caught up in size, speed, strength, leaping ability, etc etc etc. And all of those are valuable (some more than others). But give me an athlete who can stay on his feet when everyone else around him is getting corkscrewed into the ground, and I can build you a soccer player.

The extreme version is Lionel Messi, obviously. His balance is the most outstanding physical trait in the history of the game.

On Wednesday night in Chester, Pa., it was Chris Wondolowski who stood out, particularly on his goal. When he scored, my Twitter timeline filled up with "Typical Wondo goal" and "All he had to do was put it in" and the like.

And, well, yeah. That's the point, isn't it? He was able to get into position in front of goal then stay on his feet in a situation where most strikers would have taken a tumble. Look at how quickly he stops his momentum, squares and finishes. It's not rocket science.

I'll leave you with a thought from the great George Best, talking about — appropriately — former Chelsea and LA Galaxy head coach Ruud Gullit in Andrew Godsell's Europe United:

"Ruud Gullit is a great player by any standards. He has all the skills. He's not afraid to do things with the ball. And he looks as if he's enjoying every second of it. By my reckoning, that's what makes him an even better player than Maradona. Both have the key quality you will find in all the best players: balance."

It's the truth at any level.

25 July 6:28 pm

 

MLS W.O.R.K.S. joined the Philadelphia Union, Philadelphia Union Foundation, AT&T, Chester Upland School District and organizers from KaBOOM! to construct a new playground and small-sided field on Tuesday at Science and Discovery High School as part of the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game festivities.

MLS All-Stars Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Carlos Valdes (Philadelphia Union), Jay DeMerit (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Dan Kennedy (Chivas USA), Jimmy Nielsen and Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City), Osvaldo Alonso and Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders FC) and Philadelphia Union players Chase Harrison and Krystian Witkowski and MLS and Philadelphia Union executives were on hand to take part in youth activities, to aid in the construction of the playground and to officially unveil the AT&T Community Field. The players were joined by local volunteers in constructing the playground, while Philadelphia Union Academy coaches led drills and small-sided games for children as part of the AT&T Youth Clinic. Former MLS All-Star Alexi Lalas was on hand to participate. The new facilities were officially opened with a net-cutting ceremony by MLS Commissioner Don Garber, Philadelphia Union CEO and Operating Partner Nick Sakiewicz and members of Chester Upland School District.

Tuesday's community service project was part of Major League Soccer's effort to create sustainable projects that leave a lasting legacy.

To view video from the event, click here.

Check out some photos on Flickr.

In addition to the event on Tuesday, MLS W.O.R.K.S. and the Philadelphia Union sponsored a Starlight Fun Center at Crozer-Chester Medical Center. Children undergoing treatment at Crozer-Chester Medical Center will be smiling brighter thanks to the multi-media Fun Center. Designed to combat anxiety and loneliness faced by hospitalized children, The Fun Center was unveiled today along with Philadelphia Union players Michael Lahoud and Amobi Okugo. Lahoud and Okugo visited with patients, participated in arts and crafts and cut the ribbon during the official dedication ceremony.

Check out some photos on Flickr.

MLS W.O.R.K.S. Community MVP Grand Prize winner was announced at last night’s 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game. Congratulations to Andrew Pocklington representing the Philadelphia Union! Andrew won $10,000 for the Animal Care and Control Center of Philadelphia.

Congratulations to Jeffrey Briley, winner of the MLS W.O.R.K.S. Continental Tire Greener Goals contest. Jeffrey and his daughter, Maya, took to the field at the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game where they were recognized for their efforts to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

To view more photos from the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game, click here.

 

 

25 July 12:26 pm

How often can you call an All-Star Game historic? Ground-breaking? Or even revolutionary?

Well, the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game will classify as all of the above, no matter who wins the match or whether or not a goal is even scored.

Unless you've been under a rock these last few weeks, you've likely heard about the Smart Soccer revolution that's being pioneered by adidas through their miCoach technology. 

It's science fiction meets soccer: The players are wearing devices that track details of their movements and their overall performance like it's never been seen before. All in real-time. Who's covering more ground? Who's the fastest player on the field? Who's working hardest?

Wednesday's match is the first-ever "Smart Soccer" match and fans at home will be able to experience it for themselves by following along on the adidas Facebook page (click here during the match).

Below is a sneak peek of what the data will look like. It's just a preview of what is to come next year when MLS becomes the world's first "smart league" with every game tracked this way.

25 July 11:32 am

PHILADELPHIA – Frank Lampard must have known this was coming.

Since appearing in a suite at The Home Depot Center alongside David Beckham a few weeks ago, the speculation about a possible move to the LA Galaxy has only heated up. And he can’t dodge the questions now, not with Chelsea on a two-week tour of the United States and American journalists only too happy to keep seeking clues.

Lampard keeps playing diplomat, of course, repeating that he’s under contract with Chelsea and happy with the European champions. But the England international did get a laugh in Tuesday’s press conference when asked if he’d like to play alongside his former captain in LA.

“I think that he might not want me, I don’t know,” Lampard said to laughs.

Galaxy fans can take heart in that he didn’t close the door on a future move if his services were deemed surplus to Chelsea.

“I’m waiting to speak to Chelsea [about a new contract] and we’ll see what happens,” he said.

WATCH: Chelsea's Lampard, Di Matteo laud evolution of MLS

25 July 9:24 am

This is your chance to win a signed 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game jersey!  

All-Star jersey

During the broadcast on ESPN2 - Wed. July 25, at 8:30PM ET - we'll be testing your TV tune-in skills. Follow @MLS on Twitter and answer #MLSAllStar trivia questions during the broadcast.  Be one of the first 25 people to tweet an eligible reply and you'll be entered into a drawing to win.  

Replies must include @MLS, the hashtag #MLSAllStar, and the correct answer. You must also follow @MLS on Twitter.  One winner per question will be randomly selected and notified by direct message. He/she must respond with a valid email address within 30 minutes of being notified to win, otherwise a new winner will be selected.  

Official Social Media Giveaway Rules apply: http://www.mlssoccer.com/fans/social-media-giveaway-rules.

24 July 3:05 pm

PHILADELPHIA –– It doesn't get much more prestigious than Manchester United and Chelsea in back-to-back years, but that doesn't mean the MLS All-Stars don't have an opinion about who they'd like to take on come 2013.

Asked to provide their ideal opponent for next year's game during Tuesday's press conference ahead of Wednesday night's AT&T MLS All-Star game (8:30 pm ET, ESPN2), Landon Donovan, Dwayne De Rosario, Thierry Henry and coach Ben Olsen all went in different directions.

Olsen kicked things off with an uncoventional choice, drawing laughter from those in attendance as he chose his own side, D.C. United.

De Rosario, for his part, didn't talk specifics, saying that he'd simply be happy playing the reigning European Champions each year, an idea which happened to work out for this year's event.

Donovan, meanwhile, pulled at purist's heartstrings, putting his support behind tiki taka and Barcelona, while Henry couldn't resist the opportunity to get Arsenal's name out there as a potential opponent.

What do you think? Make your opinion known in the poll below.

21 July 2:48 pm

Ever dreamed of being on field level watching the MLS All-Stars warm up or winning free Philadelphia Union tickets? Well, now is your chance.

EARLY FANS OF THE GAME are automatically eligible to win one of 50 great rewards by simply entering the stadium gates before 8 pm. 

EARLY FANS OF THE GAME prizes include:

  • Pre-Game Field Experience Passes
  • Post-Game Autograph Opportunity with a Philadelphia Union player
  • Philadelphia Union Game Tickets
  • Free MLS LIVE Subscription
  • MLS Autographed Memorabilia
  • Food and Beverage Discounts
  • Merchandise Discounts

Fifty fans entering before 8 pm will be randomly selected by stadium staff and given prizes on the spot. Please arrive early, enjoy beautiful PPL Park and all of the 2012 MLS AT&T All-Star Game festivities.

19 July 3:14 pm

     

 

MLS W.O.R.K.S. Gives Back to the Chester Community

MLS Players and Executives to Leave a Lasting Impact on Behalf of the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game

MLS W.O.R.K.S. is committed to increasing the accessibility of soccer, creating sustainable projects that leave a lasting legacy and supporting local youth programs that will encourage children to live a healthy and active lifestyle.

On July 24, Major League Soccer will join the Philadelphia Union, AT&T, Chester Upland School District and organizers from KaBOOM! to construct a new playground and small-sided field at Science and Discovery High School.  The AT&T Community Field and new playground will provide more than 500 children in the Chester community with a safe place to play, and will increase awareness and provide additional opportunities for local youth to play soccer.

Over 200 volunteers will help construct the playground while Philadelphia Union Academy coaches lead drills and small-sided games for approximately 100 local children as part of the AT&T Youth Clinic. MLS All-Stars and Philadelphia Union players will join the day's festivities, taking part in youth activities, the construction of the playground and the ribbon-cutting ceremony with MLS and Philadelphia Union executives and members of the Chester Upland School District.  Former MLS All-Star Alexi Lalas will also volunteer his time to participate in youth activities.

The day of service - a partnership between MLS W.O.R.K.S., the Philadelphia Union Foundation and AT&T - is part of the League's community service program, Unite. Volunteer. Serve., a collaborative effort to combine sport and service, promote good will and improve lives and communities at the grassroots level.

On Wednesday, July 25, MLS W.O.R.K.S. and the Philadelphia Union will team up with Starlight Children's Foundation for a hospital visit and placement of a Starlight Fun Center™ mobile entertainment unit at Crozer-Chester Medical Center in Upland, Pa. Part of the MLS W.O.R.K.S. Soccer Kicks Cancer program, the visit will provide an opportunity for seriously ill children and their families to enjoy a unique experience and a renewed sense of strength and hope. Union players will visit with patients, play games and participate in other activities prior to the dedication ceremony. In addition to the Fun Center, MLS will also provide tickets to the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game to Starlight families. The 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game, featuring the MLS All-Stars against Chelsea FC, will be played on Wednesday, July 25 at 8:30 p.m. ET at PPL Park in Chester, Pa.

During halftime of the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game, MLS W.O.R.K.S. will announce the 2012 Community MVP Grand Prize winner. Fans across the League had the opportunity to nominate individuals who are committed to improving their communities. Nineteen winners were selected, representing each MLS market, and competed in a two-week online contest. The Grand Prize winner will receive a $10,000 donation to the charity of their choice and a trip to the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game at PPL Park, which includes roundtrip airfare, two nights' accommodation, an award from Tiffany & Co. and official MLS merchandise as part of the prize package. Click here to view the final list of 2012 Community MVPs.

In addition, MLS W.O.R.K.S. and Continental Tire will recognize the winner of the "How Green Are Your Goals?" contest, created to engage MLS fans in environmentally friendly efforts leading up to Earth Day. Fans were encouraged to visit the Greener Goals website and share stories of how they incorporate green efforts into their everyday lives. Portland, the MLS market with the greenest MLS fans, has won a Solar 4R Schools Renewable School package valued at $50,000 for a deserving school in their city for Earth Day 2013. The prize includes a solar panel installation and a renewable energy education package for teachers. As the Grand Prize winner, Timbers' fan Jeffrey Briley won a trip to the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game and a set of tires, courtesy of Continental Tire.

Be sure to follow @MLSWORKS on Twitter and get updates from all of our events at #MLSWORKS and AT&T #MLSAllStar Game.