Après une pause étoilée, la MLS revient à la réalité du championnat, avec dès ce vendredi un duel qui s’annonce haut en couleurs : Salt Lake ne devra pas encore penser à son match de Ligue des champions (mardi à Herediano) face à Vancouver qui, à l’image de Camilo, retrouve des sensations offensives.
Mais la soirée de mercredi dernier n’est pas restée sans traces pour tout le monde : face à Columbus, Kansas City sera privé d’Aurélien Collin, même si le courageux joueur français se dit déjà prêt au combat malgré sa blessure au visage.
Déjà vainqueur deux fois de Montréal cette saison, New York s’y déplacera plus que probablement sans son nouveau renfort, Tim Cahill. À Londres pour la cérémonie d’ouverture des jeux Olympiques, David Beckham sera-t-il à Dallas le lendemain avec le LA Galaxy (direct NBC Sports Network) ?
Chez lui, le leader San José comptera une nouvelle fois sur sa colonie hondurienne pour venir à bout de Chicago, qui prend des couleurs néerlandaises. La journée sera bouclée dimanche sur NBC Sports Network, avec la visite de New England à Philadelphie où, après les paillettes de Chelsea, la réalité locale et le cas Adu refont surface.
LE PROGRAMME COMPLET
Vendredi 27 juillet
21h00 : Salt Lake - Vancouver
Samedi 28 juillet
16h30 : Toronto - Houston
19h30 : Montréal - New York
20h00 : Dallas - LA Galaxy
20h30 : Kansas City - Columbus
21h00 : Colorado - Seattle
22h30 : San José - Chicago
23h00 : Portland - Chivas USA
Dimanche 29 juillet
19h00 : Philadelphie - New England
Toutes les heures HE (heure de New York et Montréal)
Rendez-vous ici pour la disponibilité des matchs sur MLS Live et les diffuseurs locaux
Hors États-Unis et Canada, vous pouvez voir des matchs de MLS via ces diffuseurs ou LiveSport.tv
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).
Had a chance for a quick chat yesterday with a member of the League's special events staff, the group that does all the planning and preparations for the AT&T MLS All-Star Game. As you might imagine, the game itself requires months upon months of planning, mapping out every possible off-field detail.
The problem with this of course is that sometimes you run into a situation where what goes down (Like, a 4-1 loss to Manchester United) on the field easily overshadows anything that happened off of it in the build up. The last two editions of this match haven't ended all that well for MLS.
No such issues in 2012. What a night that was.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) July 26, 2012
Over 19,000 packed PPL Park on Wednesday, creating an atmosphere that went from festive to electric once it became clear that a certain Englishman would be present in the starting lineup. We're not talking about John Terry. Beckham squared off against Di Matteo many-a-time when RDM played for Chelsea.
— MLS Insider (@MLS_Insider) July 26, 2012
1-1 and all to play for as we approached halftime, we caught the ESPN broadcast transfixed on the action transpiring underneath them. Max, Alexi and Kasey know a good game when they see one.
— MLS Insider (@MLS_Insider) July 26, 2012
With most of the crowd and surely the lion's share of viewers watching at home preparing themselves for a round penalties, the crew of second half substitutes had other ideas. Zusi, Beckerman, Pontius, Beckerman, Johnson. Goodnight.
— MLS Insider (@MLS_Insider) July 26, 2012
As captain of the squad, De Rosario may have been the one to lift the trophy for the All-Stars in front of all the TV cameras, but the night's prized piece of hardware eventually made its way into the hands of the man whose strike delivered it.
Everyone has their own opinion on Eddie Johnson's career path, but there's no arguing he's in as good of a spot now as he's ever been. Here's to continued success.
— MLS Insider (@MLS_Insider) July 26, 2012
PPL Park is empty now. Chelsea have departed from their hotel, already on the way to Miami. Tomorrow the players will return to their clubs to prepare for another round of matches this weekend.
The show goes on, but it sure was fun in Philadelphia.
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.
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.
The rumored deal that was set to send Seattle Sounders Designated Player Álvaro Fernández to Colombian side Deportivo Cali has fallen through.
That's the news according to this report in Colombian daily El Pais, which now claims that the club is looking elsewhere for attacking help.
Fernández addressed the situation only yesterday with the Seattle Times in this blog post.
When it's splashed all over the cover of Spanish sports daily Marca, we've got to take notice.
Here's what the headline says: "Red Bull gives Kaká wings" (thus the photo).
The rest of it: "The team from New York wants the Brazilian. The player appeals to the US league. ... But it would pay half [his salary]. Yesterday he didn't travel to Oviedo with Madrid. Saturday is d-day."
On Saturday, the Red Bulls also play in Montreal (7 pm ET, MLS LIVE).
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.
On vient de dépasser la mi-saison et j’avais envie de voir à quel point les équipes en étaient par rapport au même stade l’an dernier. Le calendrier de la MLS étant ce qu’il est, j’ai d’abord réalisé un classement des 18 premières rencontres de chaque club (qui permet au passage de relativiser le classement actuel). Ensuite, je l’ai comparé avec le classement de leurs 18 premiers duels l’an dernier pour voir leurs progressions / régressions respectives. Même s’il faut prendre ces tableaux avec des pincettes, notamment en raison du déséquilibre entre les matchs joués à domicile et à l’extérieur, ils n’en demeurent pas moins des indicateurs très intéressants. À vous d’en tirer vos propres conclusions… N’hésitez pas à les partager !
|CLASSEMENT 2012 APRÈS 18 MATCHS|
|COMPARAISON 2012 / 2011 APRÈS 18 MATCHS|
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