Atletico Madrid went full throttle Wednesday night to win 3-0 in Major League Soccer's annual summertime event, as the La Liga club persevered in the 2019 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target past the MLS All-Stars at a rain-soaked Exploria Stadium, the home of Orlando City.
Atletico’s quality produced a breakthrough in the 43rd minute, after Rodrigo Riquelme pulled off a beautiful backheel that pulled the All-Star defense apart. His pass found Marcos Llorente, who finished underneath Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Andre Blake.
Boosted by wholesale substitutes in the 56th minute, Atletico then made it 2-0 in the 85th minute via a knuckling shot from Portuguese teenage sensation Joao Felix. His effort bent every which way past Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando, who’s in his 20th and final MLS season.
Diego Simeone’s team added their third and final goal in the third minute of second-half stoppage time, as Diego Costa collected a Felix long ball over the top. The Spanish striker calmly finished past Rimando.
While the MLS All-Stars were outshot 19-10, several quality chances arose from high-profile stars around the league.
The team’s best first-half opportunity arose from D.C. United star Wayne Rooney in the 26th minute, as his long-range shot fizzed over the crossbar. Then LAFC midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye deftly slipped Nico Lodeiro behind the Atleti backline in the 55th minute, but the Seattle Sounders midfielder was denied by Antonio Adan from close range.
Before Felix’s insurance strike, the MLS All-Stars could have made it 1-1 if Atlanta United midfielder Pity Martinez had his finishing boots in the 78th minute. The Argentine blasted an open chance over from 16 yards after being set up from a driving run by LA Galaxy midfielder Jonathan dos Santos.
- THE BIG PICTURE: An All-Star Game is meant to entertain, and Wednesday night surely offered that against a La Liga powerhouse. Diego Simeone’s team was well-drilled defensively, and their final-third quality was evident, especially in the second half. Despite Atleti being in preseason and little training for the MLS All-Stars, the 25,527 fans in attendance were treated to a show.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: In a first half short on chances, Marcos Llorente’s finish provided quite the highlight-reel moment. His goal was class, but the vision from Rodrigo Riquelme was even more impressive.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Joao Felix moved from Benfica to Atletico Madrid for nearly $140 million this past offseason, despite being just 19. He showed why the price tag was so high, as his goal left Nick Rimando off-balance and his pass on Diego Costa’s stoppage-time strike was picturesque.
MLS All-Star History
(vs. European Opponents)