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
'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
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
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
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
, Alphonso Davies
and Ezequiel Barco
, as well as players who are a little older like Alberth Elis
, 22, and Almiron, 24.
Juventus coach Massimiliano
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.