The MLS All-Star Game is nigh, and festivities are underway already as the All-Star squad gets ready to face off against Real Madrid, who are arguably the best club on planet earth right now.
If you're in the mood for a celebration of soccer in the United States unlike any other, then you know there's plenty to love about All-Star week. Heck, there's so much going on that MLS set up a whole new digital HQ for this week.
We're going to break it all down right here.
What to Watch For
That marquee match, the MLS All-Star Game, will feature plenty of bona fide stars as Real Madrid comes to town following a UEFA Champions League title and a Clasico in Miami.
NYCFC's very own David Villa is among the biggest names on the All-Star squad, and he's got a UEFA Champions League title under his belt, too. He also has 14 goals to his name so far this year, and he won the 2016 MLS MVP award. He's ready to rock and roll, and facing off against his former rivals could spur him to quite a performance.
Villa has been the class of MLS since joining NYCFC, and he's got the talent to do damage against a team like Real Madrid. The point is, this All-Star squad are no slouches, and you shouldn't bet against David Villa scoring one or two goals against Madrid just like he used to back in his Barcelona days. After all, he did it for the All-Stars against Tottenham Hotspur in 2015. Why not this time, too?
As mentioned, this is a squad boasting a ton of top-level talent, and they're coming off a great season. La Liga and UEFA Champions League titles are about as good as it gets, and Madrid snagged both this year. Their a club with 11 Champions League titles and a magnificent history, and they need no further introduction.
The likes of Sergio Ramos, Marcelo, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Karim Benzema, and the rest of the gang will be on display against the All-Stars Wednesday night, and if you're into world class talent, you might want to tune in.
The Best of MLS
The All-Star squad features its own set of Galacticos as well. Former Madrid star Kaka will be in the lineup, and he's got a UEFA Champions League title to his name. So does Bastian Schweinsteiger, who will be bossing the midfield alongside him. You can bet that former Juventus star and Serie A winner Sebastian Giovinco will be creating the same kind of magic he always does, as well.
Beyond those three, there's plenty of born and bred MLS talent on this team, and plenty of US National Team experience to go along with it. Chicago Fire stalwart and US ace Dax McCarty will likely be controlling the midfield alongside his teammate Bastian Schweinsteiger, Dallas' Matt Hedges is the favorite to anchor the back line next to USMNT right back Graham Zusi and left back Greg Garza, while Colorado's Tim Howard could get the start in net. Of course, Gold Cup winners and Toronto FC duo Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore could get themselves a run-out, as well.
But it doesn't end there. MLS Golden Boot leader Nemanja Nikolic, who has bagged 16 goals in 20 games for Chicago, is on this team and ready to keep scoring. Gio dos Santos, a Barcelona alum, is here as well. So is Atlanta United's Miguel Almiron, one of the most dynamic midfielders in the league.
Bottom line: this match features an absolutely stunning amount of talent on display, and will thus be insanely fun to watch. Don't miss out.
The Homegrown Game
First up on the list of actual soccer this week is the MLS Homegrown Game, which will pit a squad of young Homegrown players against CD Chivas de Guadalajara's U-20 team. On the roster for this one are the likes of US U-20 captain Erik Palmer-Brown, electric Atlanta United and US U-17 prospect Andrew Carleton, and newly-minted USMNT goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez.
In charge of turning these bright young talents into an efficient unit will be former MLS MVP Mike Magee and US National Team legend Brian McBride, whose tutelage might just help these kids make the jump from the Homegrown Game to marquee match of the week.
How to Follow
The Homegrown Game will be broadcast on Facebook Live and Univision Deportes at 8:00 PM ET on Tuesday. You can catch the All-Star Game on FS1 and Univision in the USA, and TSN1 in Canada. Kickoff is slated for 8:30 PM ET on Wednesday.
Until then, you can follow all of the All-Star week activities and news on MLSsoccer.com.