SAN JOSE, Calif. — Choked by humidity and relentless sun on a brutal training morning the day before the MLS All-Star Game on Thursday (7:30 pm ET, ESPN, UniMás, TSN2, RDS), Arsenal star Theo Walcott was sweating – literally, and figuratively too.
The matchup wouldn't be a cake walk, he noted.
"I'm sure American soccer, as you guys call it, is actually gaining very close to Premier League standard, definitely," he said. "There's a lot of players that have come from England to America. The game's growing, it's getting bigger and that's exactly what we want.“
And among those players who had recently come from England to the US, Walcott remarked the looming danger of an old Arsenal foe.
“Didier [Drogba],” Walcott said. “He’s always loved scoring against us, so we want to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
At his previous team, Premier League side Chelsea, current Montreal Impact star Drogba racked up a serious tally of goals against Arsenal. And they would prefer to stanch the bleeding on Thursday.
“Obviously there’s a little bit of a [rivalry] between him and Petr [Cech, Arsenal's goalkeeper], being mates back at Chelsea, so we’ll see,” he said. “He’s going to be a difficult animal to tame. But for the guys it’s going to be a great test – you’re going to be going against one of the best strikers who’s ever lived. So good luck to the guys."
Walcott also pointed out, too, that another high-scoring All-Star hasn’t dimmed at all.
“I met Kaká the other day, and I’ve played against him back in 2007-2008 and he’s not changed at all,” Walcott said. “He looks younger than me.”
In other words, he said, though this is an exhibition game, don’t expect Arsenal to play soft.
“It’s classed as a friendly, but as soon as the guys cross that white line, there’s no friends in the game,” he said. “You work hard and treat it like any other game. Trust me, it won’t be a friendly game.”
So with the MLS side posing such a threat, would Walcott ever consider a move stateside? “Well, that’s a different question to ask now,” he said, laughing. “It’s something you can never rule out, of course, but my future’s here for now.”