HOUSTON – After Philadelphia had Manchester United on the ropes andKansas City defeated the Red Devils on Sunday, there is real hope the MLSAll-Stars can defeat the perennial EPL contenders inWednesday night's All-Star Game.
Add the fact that Manchester United is finishing uppreseason training and that their back line has not exactly proven a defensive fortress, and it leads to the belief that a special result is possible at Reliant.
However, with both Landon Donovan and Edson Buddle going 90minutes Tuesday night in the CONCACAF Champions League, it looks like theAll-Stars will not be relying on pace up top to expose the English club’srelative defensive weakness.
Brian Ching, Guillermo Barros Schelotto and Dwayne DeRosario are not known for their speed. Meanwhile, Juan Pablo Angel is stillnursing an ankle injury.
Possession and set pieces will be the way for the MLSAll-Stars to make life difficult for Manchester United. With players likeJavier Morales, David Ferreira, Marco Pappa and Schelotto, the All-Stars haveenough technical quality to knock the ball around and draw fouls in dangerous positions.
These same players, along with De Rosario, are capable ofdelivering dangerous set pieces that can capitalize on the aerial skills of ChadMarshall, Omar Gonzalez, Jamison Olave and Ching.
While the MLS attacking mission is clear, the defensive keysare three in particular:
(1) Sliding over to help left back Heath Pearce andleft winger Brad Davis, who will have plenty to deal with facing Gabriel Obertan andthe overlaps of Rafael.
(2) Shalrie Joseph cannot allow Manchester United's Paul Scholes to havetime on the ball to pick out players in attack.
(3) MLS defenders need to stay tight on the likes ofDimitar Berbatov, Javier Hernández and Danny Welbeck in order not to allow themto turn and use their speed and vision.
An MLS victory is very possible because if there exists playerswho have the experience and skill to execute a game plan, it’s the group ofstars available to Bruce Arena.
Predicted MLS All-Star lineup [subs in brackets]: Donovan Ricketts [Nick Rimando]– Heath Pearce, Wilman Conde [Chad Marshall], Omar Gonzalez [Jamison Olave], Kevin Alston – Brad Davis [Landon Donovan], Shalrie Joseph[Jeff Larentowicz], Javier Morales [David Ferreira], Marco Pappa [Sebastien Le Toux] – Guillermo Barros Schelotto [Jaime Moreno], Brian Ching [Edson Buddle and Juan Pablo Angel]