All-Star - 2020 - Vela vs Guido Rodriguez

MLS vs. Liga MX All-Stars: Who would win and what would this matchup look like today?

The All-Star Game we've all been waiting for is finally happening: MLS vs. Liga MX on July 29, 2020.

But we're not about to wait around for eight months before fantasizing about what both teams could look like and who might win. So with the help of MLSsoccer.com's writers and editors and Mexican soccer expert Cesar Hernandez, we're jumping way ahead:

MLS All-Stars

The MLSsoccer.com editorial team put our collective heads together to come up with what we believe to be the best team that MLS could put together based on end-of-season rosters and 2019 performance:

FORWARDS:

  • Josef Martinez (ATL)
  • Jordan Morris (SEA)
  • Cristian Pavon (LA)
  • Raul Ruidiaz (SEA)
  • Carlos Vela (LAFC)

MIDFIELDERS:

  • Eduard Atuesta (LAFC)
  • Jonathan Dos Santos (LA)
  • Mark-Anthony Kaye (LAFC)
  • Nicolas Lodeiro (SEA)
  • Maxi Moralez (NYC)
  • Darlington Nagbe (CLB)
  • Paxton Pomykal (DAL)
  • Alejandro Pozuelo (TOR)

DEFENDERS:

  • Lalas Abubakar (COL)
  • Reggie Cannon (DAL)
  • Kemar Lawrence (RBNY)
  • Ike Opara (MIN)
  • Miles Robinson (ATL)
  • Anton Tinnerholm (NYC)
  • Walker Zimmerman (LAFC)

GOALKEEPERS:

  • Stefan Frei (SEA)
  • Sean Johnson (NYC)
  • Matt Turner (NE)

MLS starting XI (4-2-3-1): Frei — Tinnerholm, Opara, Robinson, Lawrence — Atuesta, Dos Santos — Vela, Lodeiro, Pavon — Josef

Three Reasons MLS would win:

  1. MLS has the best Mexican player today: There's no reason to believe that reigning MLS MVP Carlos Vela can't inflict the same damage on Liga MX that he did on MLS in 2018 and 2019 with LAFC: 48 goals in 59 regular season matches. Playing on his home field at Banc of California Stadium, Vela will make it a point to put on a show and show Liga MX what they've been missing.
  2. Superior goalkeeping: If it's the wide-open All-Star affair everyone expects, the goalkeeper capable of the miracle save can tip the balance of the game and he'll be wearing an MLS jersey come next July. Stefan Frei, Sean Johnson and Matt Turner may not have the resume of Guillermo "Memo" Ochoa, who will be 35 by the time the All-Star Game rolls around, but they are all established shot-stoppers and they showed it throughout 2019.
  3. Better bench: The All-Star Game will test the depth of both MLS and Liga MX All-Star squads and MLS will have real difference-makers off the bench who can change the course of the game. Designated Players like Alejandro Pozuelo (Toronto FC) and Maxi Moralez (NYCFC) can pull a rabbit out of a hat and former Liga MX top scorer Raul Ruidiaz could have a point to prove against his former fellow Liga MXers.

Liga MX All-Stars

Who would make a 23-man All-Star team from Liga MX today? Mexican soccer expert Cesar Hernandez outlines a proposed list by position and offers up a potential starting XI:

FORWARDS:

  • Rogelio Funes Mori (MTY)
  • Julio Furch (SAN)
  • Andre-Pierre Gignac (TIG)
  • Jose Juan Macias (LEO)
  • Mauro Quiroga (NEC)

MIDFIELDERS:

  • Brian Lozano (SAN)
  • Angel Mena (LEO)
  • Luis Montes (LEO)
  • Guido Pizarro (TIG)
  • Rodolfo Pizarro (MTY)
  • Guido Rodriguez (AME)
  • Jonathan Rodriguez (CAZ)
  • Rubens Sambueza (PAC)

DEFENDERS:

  • Pablo Aguilar (CAZ)
  • Jesus Gallardo (MTY)
  • Miguel Layun (MTY)
  • Luis Rodriguez (TIG)
  • Carlos Salcedo (TIG)
  • Jorge Sanchez (AME)
  • Nicolas Sanchez (MTY)

GOALKEEPERS:

  • Hugo Gonzalez (NEC)
  • Nahuel Guzman (TIG)
  • Guillermo Ochoa (AME)

Liga MX starting XI (4-4-2): Ochoa — L. Rodriguez, Aguilar, Sanchez, Gallardo — Mena, G. Rodriguez, Pizarro, Lozano — Gignac, Funes Mori

Three Reasons Liga MX would win:

  1. Back line beasts: No other central defenders in Liga MX or MLS are as dominant or commanding as Pablo Aguilar (CAZ) or Nicolas Sanchez (MTY). Both players are blessed with not only a daunting mixture of aggression and strength, but also with a knack for finding the back of the net: six goals for Sanchez in 2019 Clausura play and four header goals for Aguilar since August.
  2. The X-Factor: There’s a reason the Argentine national team recently called up 24-year-old Club America player Guido Rodriguez. Although he may not be as eye-catching or as popular as other marquee Liga MX stars, on his day he easily does the work of two defensive midfielders all on his own. He's a combative player who takes control of matches through his defensive interceptions and accurate passing and occasionally shows off an incredibly powerful and accurate shot from distance.
  3. Tigres + Monterrey = Powerhouse: However the Liga MX All-Stars are selected, one thing is for certain: Monterrey and Tigres will have plenty of Liga MX representation. In recent years, the crosstown rivals have made headlines for their willingness to outspend one another on high-profile additions to their already stacked squads. In fact, some might argue that recent Clasico Regio matches between the two sides are virtual All-Star games. Setting the league animosity aside, the familiarity that comes with having a core of Tigres and Monterrey players would represent a clear advantage against an MLS side that may not be able to match that same level of chemistry.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Freelance writer Cesar Hernandez is an expert in all things Mexican soccer. He has covered Liga MX, the Mexican national team and Mexicans abroad for ESPN FC, The Athletic, The Guardian, FourFourTwo, VICE Sports and several other publications. Along with writing and previous radio appearances on the BBC, talkSPORT and SiriusXM FC, Cesar is also a member of the Mexican Soccer Show podcast.


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