Kick Off: Tim Ream wants a piece of Manchester United

Kick Off - Manchester United, July 13, 2011

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Bring on the Red Devils.

That’s what’s going through the minds of American soccer fans across the country and that’s what the MLS All-Stars are thinking as they get set to face English Premier League champions Manchester United in a sold-out Red Bull Arena for the AT&T MLS All-Star Game tonight (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2/TSN/TeleFutura). Tune in to the Live MLSsoccer.com pregame show starting at 7pm for interviews with Commissioner Garber, Alexi Lalas and many special guests. 

”They’ve been on a good roll and we want to put a stop to that,” All-Star defender Tim Ream wrote in his New York Times blog. “Everyone is prepared and we have gelled well and think we have what it’s going to take to beat them. Look for a better display than last year’s team because everyone feels that our team is much more balanced than in years past.”

The media credits the format of the MLS All-Star Game for providing “the best All-Star Game in sports.” The Sporting News makes the argument this morning.

A result in the All-Star Game would bolster the league’s long-term strategy: “We believe that over the next 10 years, if we continue to be smart, focused and innovative, that our league can compete with the other leagues around the world,” according to MLS Commissioner Don Garber, who points to stadiums and academies as the most critical building blocks in that growth.

One analyst paints a picture for how the MLS All-Star team could beat Manchester United tonight. 

LA Galaxy star David Beckham will be under the spotlight tonight as he prepares to face the club he is identified with most. But make no mistake about were Beckham’s alliances lie. Tonight is another step for him to help build MLS, to which he feel he’s contributed: “When I look back over the five years, I’ve seen record attendance, seven new franchises — and seven very successful franchises — and nine new soccer stadiums.”

Speaking of Beckham, fellow All-Star Matt Besler, selected to the team via fan text voting, had an awkward moment when introducing himself to his teammate: “I didn’t know what to call him. Nobody calls him David, so I was going to go with Beckham or ‘Becks,’ but I didn’t feel like I knew him well enough to use a nickname. … I think I might have said, ‘Nice to meet you, man,’ I went with ‘man.’ I think I blew it.”

Jay-Z blew it. Apparently he had to blow off dinner with Beckham and his All-Star teammates on Monday, according to the New York gossip pages.

Italian giants Juventus were also in New York yesterday, claiming a 1-0 World Football Challenge victory over Club América. New York Times columnist George Vecsey was also there and gives this perspective on the moment that the Old Lady is experiencing as a club.

Moving to left back earned Corey Ashe his first All-Star call-up. It took him a few years, despite the fact that current Portland manager John Spencer knew he was a left back all along.

Seattle Sounders Kasey Keller will be joining the All-Stars later today after saving the Seattle Sounders from further embarrassment following a 1-0 CONCACAF Champions League loss to “The Monks,” as San Francisco FC are nicknamed. Watch his two late saves, which ensured the Sounders are still in with a chance. Keller believes a long delay in the travel may have contributed to their downfall Tuesday. (VIDEO)

Toronto FC hope to get off to a better start in their Champions League preliminary round tie with Nicaraguan side Real Estelí. They have the advantage of opening at BMO Field but Aron Winter’s men will expect to build an advantage of multiple goals against the CONCACAF minnows (8 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer). Real Estelí will get a taste of TFC’s 4-3-3 system, since the TFC coaching staff is adamant they are not changing the team’s playing style even if defender Andy Iro believes it’s going to “take a while to adapt.”

Real Salt Lake’s All-Star midfielder Kyle Beckerman added to the groundswell of support for Jason Kreis to one day become manager of the US national team: “I think we have the players in this country that could play in his system perfectly and play attractive soccer. … It’s 'let’s go kick some butt.' I think he would bring that philosophy to the national team.”

Speaking of the US national team, former Under-20 manager Thomas Rongen believes “there might be a potential call-up” for San Jose Earthquakes All-Star Bobby Convey should he adapt to his new role of left back.

When does a coach ever protest the opponent receiving a red card and going down to 10 men? When it happens in an exhibition match. Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew said this about Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum getting ejected before halftime in their Wednesday friendly: “I would have preferred he hadn't. We didn't want that for the Crew.” Newcastle cruised 3-0.

Goals by Sal Zizzo and Brian Umony gave the Portland Timbers their first win at home since May 21. Here’s a photo gallery of the event.

There was a Reserve League matchup between Chivas USA and the San Jose Earthquakes on Tuesday in which Quakes midfielder Brad Ring really got under the skin of the Goats at the Home Depot Center.

Despite the fact that their 11 points out of a playoff spot right now, the expansion Vancouver Whitecaps are still talking playoffs with a few months left in the season: "There's still a lot of soccer to be played," said manager Tom Soehn.

Will Barcelona already be hoisting their first trophy of the season on Wednesday? They play German side Bayern Munich in the final of a preseason tournament (2:30 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer and Fox Deportes) which will see AC Milan and Brazilian side Internacional contest the third-place game (12:00 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer and Fox Deportes). The French Super Cup will also be played tonight between Lille and Marseille (2:30 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer Plus).

After starring in the Women’s World Cup in Germany, could US goalkeeper Hope Solo miss the rest of the WPS season due to injury?

MLSsoccer.com Must-Reads:

Get the MLS iPhone App: Live coverage of MLS, All-Star WFC, and CCL

Get the MLS Android App: Live coverage of MLS, All-Star WFC, and CCL

Sporting Kansas City reject overtures from Danish side Brondby for Teal Bunbury


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