FOX Soccer got the scoop earlier today, confirming what had been rumored: Chelsea is coming over for this year’s Major League Soccer All-Star game (Jul. 25, PPL Park in Philadelphia).
This will be the second time the Abramovites will participate in the event, having also appeared in 2006. On that night, MLS came away 1-0 winners at Toyota Park, with then-Dynamo midfielder Dwayne De Rosario scoring in the 70th minute.
The coach from MLS that day? Philadelphia’s own Peter Nowak, who could be selected to again this time out, given Red Bulls’ boss Hans Backe was chosen last year (when the game was in New York).
To give you an idea of how long ago 2006 was in soccer years, players take saw action that day for Chelsea include Geremi, Shaun Wright-Philips, Andriy Shevchenko, Arjen Robben, and Lassana Diarra.
While the results of these exhibitions don’t mean anything, you can’t help but wonder if MLS is hoping for something more competitive than the last two years. Two easy Manchester United wins (by a combined scoreline of 9-2) left some wondering if the format’s really worth it. It’s nice to get a big, prestigious opponent in for a marque event, but if it’s going to turn into an annual hammering for MLS’s best, the showcase’s novelty will be usurped by trepidation.
There are a few reasons to think this year will be different. First, if Thierry Henry continues to be THIERRY HENRY, he’ll be the most dangerous attacker MLS has had since the league went to this format in 2005. As Titi showed this winter, he’s still capable of grabbing a goal again Premier League competition.
There’s also Euro 2012 to consider, the last day of which is July 1. Chelsea’s squad is dominated by players who can be expected to take part in UEFA’s championship: goalkeeper Petr Cech (Czech Republic); defenders Ashley Cole, John Terry, and Gary Cahill (England); midfielders Frank Lampard (England), Florent Malouda (France) and Raul Miereles (Portugal); and attackers Daniel Sturridge (England), Fernando Torres and Juan Mata (Spain).
Some of those players will appear in Philadelphia, especially if their nations don’t get out of group. Others won’t even make the trip to the States.
But let’s have some fun. Let’s assume every player that goes to Euro 2012 doesn’t play at PPL Park. What kind of team might we see from Chelsea?
How about …
G: Ross Turnbull
LB: Ryan Bertrand
CB: David Luiz
CB: Jeffrey Bruma
RB: Branislav Ivanovic
M: Oriol Romeu
M: Michael Essien
LF: Lucas Piazón
CF: Romelu Lukaku
RF: Gael Kakuta
Mostly kids mixed in with some regulars, and of course, that won’t be the team. Even if it is, MLS’s side will still have their hands full.