MLS All-Stars v Everton, Friendly, July 30, 2009
Thankfully for the MLS and for fans swiftly tiring of David Beckhamâ€™s troubles in the US of A, Goldenballs will not be appearing at the Rio Tinto stadium in Utah for one of the most exciting games of the American season.
With no Becks to steal the show, the MLS have a great opportunity to showcase the undoubted talent that perform every week. This match has taken on its own annual importance and one canâ€™t help feel that a similar game involving other leagues could be a real hit. A match between the Premier League and La Liga would, for example, be a much anticipated encounter.
Whilst the MLS side have never played together before, Everton will beware a side packed with attacking threats. Leading the way, with the most fansâ€™ votes to ensure he plays in this game, is former Arsenal midfielder Freddie Ljungberg who appears to have got over his troubled spell at Upton Park and is revelling as the talisman of the Seattle Sounders.
Other veterans such as Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Cuauhtemoc Blanco, Kasey Keller and Landon Donovan will also relish the occasion of pitting their talents against a Premier League team. David Moyes will also have to be wary of some youngÂ stars coming through the ranks in the MLS who could well by plying their trade in Europe soon.
Houston Dynamo midfielder Stuart Holden was impressive for the US at the recent Gold Cup and Mali central defender Bakary Soumare, who plays for Chicago Fire, is another who could see this as a chance to secure a transfer to major club. While the biggest danger will likely come from Colombian striker Fredy Montero, recently linked with Fulham – Montero is probably too good for the MLS, as he has already shown in the short time he has been in America.
Everton will see this as a useful work out with just over two weeks to the Premier League season. The Toffees lost to Bury and then beat Rochdale in their opening pre-season friendlies and earlier this week they were on the end of some Ariel Ortega brilliance to lose to River Plate 1-0.
Much of the talk around the club this summer has been of Joleon Lescott but it is abundantly clear that with or without the former Wolves defender, the Toffees will yet again punch well above their weight in the coming season. For this match, Tim Howard will also be eager to impress on home soil, Jack Rodwell could start the game following his fine cameos for the England Under-21s earlier this summer and Ayegbeni Yakubu is back in training and could face the All-Star side.
The MLS All-Star side have an impressive record in recent years in this match, they saw off Fulham (4-1) in 2005, Chelsea (1-0) in 2006, Celtic (2-0) in 2007 and West Ham (3-2) in 2008. The fact that the All-Star team was just thrown together days before the game matters little when they are much fitter and have a partisan crowd backing them on.
101gg predicts: MLS All-Stars 2 â€“ Everton 1 (8/1)
Full match odds here.