The belief when it comes to the MLS All-Star Game is always that the MLS All-Stars are going to put up a fight. This year, especially, the team was so stacked with the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Carlos Vela and Wayne Rooney that it felt like a given they would put in a good shift against Atletico Madrid.
While they were able to stick with them for large portions of the game, as reported by BBC and GiveMeSport, they couldn’t quite get themselves over the finish line as Atletico ran out 3-0 winners in Orlando, Florida.
A big occasion
A capacity crowd of more than 25,000 fans came out to watch the game which, in itself, is a pretty good sign of the direction that things are going in for the MLS. While the All-Stars haven’t won the All-Star Game itself for a few years, with their last triumph coming against Tottenham Hotspur, it’s not really about winning – it’s about competing and showcasing what a lot of these players can do.
The heavy rain wound up delaying the start of things for just over half an hour, but before long, we were underway. Atletico gave off the impression of a team that wanted to come out firing and put the MLS side down early, but they weren’t quite able to do that.
It took until two minutes before half time for Atletico to take the lead, with Marcos Llorente being the man to break the deadlock. After the break, the All-Stars came out fighting, with Diego Rossi and Nicolas Lodeiro both going close. Given that it was a friendly we saw a lot of substitutions, too, with Atletico making seven whole changes in the 55th minute to try and bring a fresh approach to a game that they were already leading.
One man who came on was their brand new superstar Joao Felix who, based on recent evidence, looks like he could become one of the world’s finest young players quicker than most of us had initially thought.
It was Felix who scored a wonderful goal in the 85th minute to all but seal the result, and then in injury time, he set up controversial forward Diego Costa who was able to put the icing on the cake of the result.
Atletico will now continue to prepare for the return of domestic football with the new La Liga season being right around the corner, whereas for the MLS All-Stars, they’ve still got the remainder of their regular season to think about and focus on.
The playoffs are going to be here before we know it, and at this stage, the players involved in the All-Star proceedings will need to go from teammates to rivals once again.
You could certainly make the argument that they never really came to terms fully with the idea of being teammates, and perhaps that’s one of the reasons why they weren’t able to secure the win.
Either way, though, the bragging rights go to Europe once again.