MLS All-Star Game: A showcase for all things Atlanta -- and current format

The MLS all-stars and Juventus played to a 1-1 tie in the MLS All-Star Game before an announced sell-out of 72,317 fans at Atlanta United's Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Juve won the shootout, 5-3, to walk away the victor.

What's there to take away from this year's All-Star Game?

The first thing is, if you have a chance to catch a game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, be sure to do so. It will blow you away. No expense was spared in the construction of the stadium for the Falcons and Atlanta United. You will see why it cost $1.5 billion.

Watching a game on television doesn't do the stadium justice. The giant screen that rings the rooftop is mesmerizing. The view out the window to the city is amazing even on a rainy evening. What startled out-of-towners were the concession prices: $2 hot dogs, $2 drinks, $5 for a beer and dog.

As for the game itself ...

Josef Martinez plays one way: hard. That's why he is on course to obliterate the MLS single-season scoring record. He risked life and limb in an all-star game to stuff Ignacio Piatti's cross into the goal for the tying goal in the 26th minute, four minutes after Andrea Favilli's opening goal.

Martinez had been involved in the play from almost the beginning, heading Atlanta United teammate Miguel Almiron's cross back to Carlos Vela, whose fierce shot was stopped by Juventus keeper Wojciech Szczesny. The ball flew to Szczesny's right, and Piatti sent it back across the goal, where Martinez went flying over defender Alex Sandro to head the ball into the goal.

The reaction of all-star coach Gerardo "Tata" Martino, his coach at Atlanta United? "Every time Josef scores it makes me happy. Hopefully, he can score for us on the weekend as well.”

Case for sticking with current format. What's the future for the All-Star Game? There are really three ways to go:

1. Keep the same format: MLS all-stars vs. a big European club on summer tour;
2. MLS all-stars vs. Liga MX all-stars (a growing possibility, as MLS commissioner Don Garber mentioned on the halftime telecast and Liga MX president Enrique Bonilla suggested before the game);
3. Make it an all-MLS affair: East vs. West or Americans vs. internationals?

One benefit of sticking with the first is that the MLS all-stars -- particularly, the young players or those with a history against the team -- have an extra reason not to treat the game simply as a friendly.

“When you play against a big team," said Martinez, "you always want to do things right. Obviously, because of my past, I want to achieve what many times we couldn't achieve in Torino.”

Still only 25, Martinez spent three seasons at Juve city rival Torino, though he only scored seven goals.

Youth showcase. As All-Star Games go, the match against Juventus was one of the better ones, maintaining its energy throughout the game. A lot of friendly games slow down in the second half after mass substitutions, but both teams had their chances until the end.

One big factor is the growing depth of talent in MLS, in particular young talent that wants to, as Martinez said, show Juve what they can do. The game featured teenagers Tyler Adams, Alphonso Davies and Ezequiel Barco, as well as players who are a little older like Alberth Elis, 22, and Almiron, 24.

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri was cautious in his praise for the game and the players, but he could not help but be impressed with the overall atmosphere.

"It’s a beautiful event," he said.
4 comments about "MLS All-Star Game: A showcase for all things Atlanta -- and current format".
  1. beautiful game, August 2, 2018 at 8:45 a.m.

    A well played game. Purpose of play and execution was way above the typical MLS standards. Kudos to all the players that participated. TV commentary was one of the worst ever. Unbelievably, interview of guest moved the TV video from the pitch to the three B.S.ers in the booth. Twellman and the female commentator are the worst.

  2. Brian Cameron replied, August 2, 2018 at 4:47 p.m.

    I disagree about Twellman. I think he’s a good color commentator, same as Alejandro Moreno, and much better than Alexi Lalas. 

  3. Ric Fonseca, August 2, 2018 at 10:21 p.m.

    Re the tv coverage, I first tuned in to the Twellman coverage, but then I decided to switch to the Spanish language station.  Why? The English language was booooooring as heck, I actually fell asleep for a couple of minutes, when I switched to Spanish language (I'm bilingual) and tolerated the banter back n' forth.  Moreno, Kelley and Twellman were ok, but I wonder if someone could shed the light and name the young lady?  
    Interesting game, though the spanish language guys kept on asking as to why Ibra didn't bother to attend, while they made excuses for CR7.  PLAY ON!!!

  4. humble 1 replied, August 2, 2018 at 10:46 p.m.

    Since Ibra is coming back from a torn up knee, no surprise he avoids exibition game on turf.  If he does not show for a playoff on turf - that would be a real story.

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