What is the MLS All-Star Game?
The MLS All-Star Game is an exhibition match between a collection of the best players in the MLS and beginning in 2005, one of the best teams in Europe. This season, the team is the La Liga powerhouse, Atlético Madrid.
Atlético Madrid will play the game with their current roster, while the MLS All-Stars are an assembled group through fan voting, commissioner selections and head coaching choices.
When and Where is the MLS All-Star Game?
Where: Orlando City Stadium, Orlando, Florida.
When: Friday, July 31st at 8:00 PM EST
How: (TV) FS1, UniMas, TSN and TVA Sports.
How does the MLS All-Star Game work?
The game is played exactly like an MLS regulation game with a couple of minor differences.
The first is that there are unlimited substitutions. This helps accommodate playing time for both rosters, especially the MLS squad, as they have 26 players.
The second difference is that the game cannot end in a tie. At the end of regulation, if the game is a draw, then they move to penalty kicks.
Each team gets five penalty kicks and after those five, if there is a team leading the other squad in made goals, then they are the winner.
How are the Players Selected?
Players for the MLS All-Star team are selected one of three ways.
The first is through a fan vote that selects their favorite eleven players. LAFC’s Carlos Vela, the MLS leading scorer, was the leading vote getter from the fans.
The second way to get on the MLS All-Star squad is through two Commissioner’s picks. These picks usually grab a player that has fallen through the cracks from voting or is a special young or older player that the league wants highlighted in the game.
This season, the commissioner chose 19-year old Paxton Pomykal, an FC Dallas player and 39-year old Real Salt Lake goalie Nick Rimando, who has announced his retirement at season’s end.
Finally, the head coach of the MLS All-Stars, James O’ Connor of Orlando City, fills out the roster with 13 selections of his own, rounding out the complete roster of 26 players.
Who is on the MLS All Stars Roster?
- Andre Blake (Philadelphia)
- Brad Guzan (Atlanta)
- Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
- Matt Hedges (Dallas)
- Kemar Lawrence (NY Red Bulls)
- Romain Métanire (Minnesota U. FC)
- Leandro González Pírez (Atlanta)
- Bastian Schweinsteiger (Chicago Fire)
- Walker Zimmerman (LAFC)
- Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
- Ezequiel Barco (Atlanta)
- Diego Chara (Portland)
- Jonathan dos Santos (LA Galaxy)
- Mark-Anthony Kaye (LAFC)
- Nicolás Lodeiro (Seattle)
- Gonzalo Martínez (Atlanta)
- Maxi Moralez (NYCFC)
- Nani (Orlando)
- Paxton Pomykal (Dallas)
- Alejandro Pozuelo (Toronto)
- Diego Rossi (LAFC)
- Zlatan Ibrahimović (LA Galaxy)
- Josef Martínez (Atlanta United)
- Wayne Rooney (D.C. United)
- Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
- Carlos Vela (LAFC)
Who is on the Atlético Madrid Roster?
- Jan Oblak
- Antonio Adán
- André Moreira
- José Giménez
- Stefan Savic
- Francisco Montero
- Renan Lodi
- Sime Vrsaljko
- Santiago Arias
- Marcos Llorente
- Saúl Ñiguez
- Héctor Herrera
- Thomas Lemar
- Angel Correa
- João Félix
- Antoine Griezmann
- Álvaro Morata
- Diego Costa
- Nikola Kalinic
- Ivan Saponjic
Who are the MLS All-Stars?
This year’s MLS squad features one of the best collections of goal scorers ever assembled for an all-star game and should prove to be a tough matchup for Atlético Madrid.
The three-headed scoring dragon for MLS is headed by Carlos Vela, the 19-goal, 12-assist machine for LAFC.
Vela is the definite front-runner for MLS MVP and appears to be headed to eclipse the league’s goal + assist record of 38, set by Sebastian Giovinco in 2015, as the right-winger has 15 more games to play.
Next in line at the forward position for the team is the legendary duo of Zlatan Ibrahimović and Wayne Rooney. The English soccer powerhouses have scored a combined 23 goals this season.
Atlanta’s Josef Martinez has scored 12 goals for Atlanta United. He won’t draw the attention that a Vela or Rooney will, but the 5-foot, 6-inch forward can absolutely score from anywhere.
Remember, all three players should see around 30 minutes each during the game as the 26-man roster will see heavy rotation throughout the match.
In the midfield, the MLS team is led by LAFC’s Diego Rossi, NYCFC’s Maxi Moralez and FC Dallas’ Paxton Pomykal.
Rossi is fourth in the MLS in scoring and although he is technically a winger, he drops back enough to the midfield for the league to give him an All-Star nod at this position.
In terms of sheer playmaking ability, Maxi Moralez is a showstopper, leading the league with 11 assists on the season already for NYCFC.
NYCFC’s Maxi Moralez is one of the best playmakers in the league and is on pace for a season that could top 20 assists, making him just the third player to do it in MLS history.
Finally, Paxton Pomykal is one of the best two-way players in MLS. For Dallas FC, Pomykal has been a revelation holding a team’s attack in check while generating offense for the club.
On defense, expect LAFC’s Walker Zimmerman and Minnesota’s Romain Metanire to control the back line. Both can defend and push the ball to spearhead the attack.
At the keeper position, many believe that Atlanta’s Brad Guzan and Philadelphia’s Andre Blake, will split the time in between the pipes for MLS.
Guzan is having another strong season at age 34. Expect the Atlanta goalie to play at least one of the two halves for the MLS club.
Although it will be hard for the All-Star unit to find a rhythm with 26 players getting their fair share of playing time, the team does have some spectacular playmakers that could provide a moment that leads the team to victory.
Who is playing for Atlético Madrid?
The 2018-19 season for Atlético Madrid was another story of missed opportunities. The club finished second to Barcelona again in La Liga and was bounced by Juventus in the Champions League.
And to top it off the frustration, top goal scorer, Antoine Griezmann, is headed to Barcelona via transfer, a club that is Atlético Madrid’s top rival.
But not all hope is lost for the Spanish club as management has brought in top-tier talent such as Alvaro Morata from the English club Chelsea and paying a record fee for Joao Felix.
Felix cost Atlético Madrid over $142 million in U.S. Dollars while Morata is running just under $60 for the club.
The 19-year old Felix scored 20 goals over all competitions last season for Benfica and last April, he became the youngest player to score a hat trick in a Europa League match.
With this game being an exhibition, expect to see moderate movement from both benches, although Atlético Madrid should use players a bit longer than the All-Star team.
When you talk about the strengths of Atlético Madrid, you start with keeper Jan Oblak. The 26-year old is considered world-class and one of the top rated keepers in the world.
To help Oblak, 24-year old José Giménez controls the back line for Atlético but he shouldn’t play more than a half in the exhibition, so prepare for a drop off in the 2nd half.
In the midfield, Thomas Lemar scored just two goals and had three assists in his debut season for Atlético Madrid, but could be primed for a breakout this season due to his immense talent.
Now that Griezmann is gone, the attack will be led by Diego Costa. One of the leading scorers in the Premier League when he was with Chelsea, Costa has an uncanny way of finding the net.
So although Griezmann is headed out the door, Atlético Madrid is poised to have another dynamic attack in La Liga this season.
Betting Trends: How to bet on the MLS All-Star Game
- Since the MLS switched to new format against Europe teams for All-Star Game, the MLS team is 7-4 with 3 penalty kick shootouts.
- The MLS squad is 0-3 in shootouts, including losing via shootout in each of the last two seasons.
- In the last five years, the MLS team has only scored seven goals.
- No match has gone over three total goals in the last five All-Star contests.
- The last two matches were 1-1 draws at the end of regulation and the European team won both shootouts.
- This is only the second time the MLS All-Star squad is facing a Spanish team. The other match was a loss in 2017 to Real Madrid on penalty kicks.
The game odds will be added as soon as it is made available by the sportsbooks.