Why Tottenham Is a Worthy Opponent For MLS All-Star Game

The north London side will participate in the July 29 match in Colorado
by Ray Marcham   |   Thursday, April 16, 2015

US Soccer Federation (USSF)

It’s a famous English club that will face the MLS All-Stars on July 29 in Colorado, and one that could be quite beatable.

Tottenham Hotspur will be the opponent for the all-stars at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, as announced on Wednesday. Spurs are currently battling for a Europa League spot with Liverpool and Southampton, sitting in seventh place in the Premier League with 54 points. They trail the 5th-place Reds by three points and the 6th-place Saints by two points, but are seven points behind Manchester City for 4th place and the last Champions League spot. This will be the second straight year that Tottenham has played in North America.

A bit of star power will be with Spurs when they go to Colorado. Of course, there’s their young superstar-in-the-making, Harry Kane, who has scored 29 times in all competitions for the club. There’s the young American, DeAndre Yedlin, who made his initial first-team appearance last weekend as a sub against Aston Villa. Christian Eriksen and Nacer Chadli have also been solid scorers for Spurs, and Andros Townsend is now a semi-regular member of England’s national team.

The All-Star Game will be the only preseason match outside of Europe for Spurs, and they join Chelsea, Manchester United, Everton, West Ham United and Fulham has English sides who been a part of the All-Star Game. Chelsea and Manchester United have played in the game twice, while the others have played once. But Tottenham will be the first English team in the ASG in three years, as AS Roma and Bayern Munich have been the opponents the past two years.

There is a significant connection between Tottenham and MLS. Of course, there is Yedlin, who moved to Spurs from Seattle in the winter. There are more Seattle-Tottenham connections, with current Sounder Clint Dempsey and former Sounder Kasey Keller both being former Spurs, and former Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp started his coaching career with the Sounders in 1976, while still occasionally playing for the club. Brad Friedel, who played for Columbus way back in 1996-97, has been with Tottenham since 2011. Robbie Keane was a long-time member of Spurs before going to Los Angeles to play for the Galaxy. The connection extends to the US national team, and Jurgen Klinsmann played for Spurs in 1996-97.

There’s even a connection with an MLS side that hasn’t played yet, as former Tottenham Director of Football Administration Darren Eales is now the president of the new team in Atlanta.

Spurs also have a partnership with the San Jose Earthquakes, dating back to 2008. That partnership has included each team using the practice facilities of the other club, occasional friendlies and even exchanging players (the Simon Dawkins loan in 2011 being a prime example).

Tottenham also came to North America last year for three friendlies, with good results. They played to a 3-3 draw in Seattle, then won 3-2 in Toronto and 2-0 over Chicago at Toyota Park. They crossed the pond in recent years to play the Red Bulls in 2012, and the Earthquakes and Red Bulls in 2010.

“We enjoyed three tough matches last summer in North America,” Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino said in a statement, “and the quality of football in MLS continues to grow every year. Pre-season is an important time for us and we are looking forward to being a part of one of the biggest events on the US football calendar.”

Of course, one can see a bit of irony about Tottenham being chosen as the opponent for this particular All-Star Game. It is being played in the home stadium of the Colorado Rapids, who have a long-standing partnership with Spurs’ traditional rivals, Arsenal. The Rapids’ owner, Stan Kroenke, is also the majority owner of Arsenal, and there is Arsenal signage in Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. One could go further and mention that DSGP is built in a former portion of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal property, but maybe that’s a stretch.

This will be the second time that the MLS All-Star Game has been held in Colorado. Back in 2007, the All-Stars defeated Scottish powerhouse Celtic 2-0 on goals by New York’s Juan Pablo Angel and FC Dallas’ Juan Carlos Toja. That was also the third straight year that the All-Stars had defeated a visiting club, as they knocked off Fulham in 2005 and Chelsea in 2006.

It will take much to top the 2014 All-Star Game in Portland, when Bayern Munich was the opponent. An early goal by Robert Lewandowski gave the German champs the lead, but Bradley Wright-Phillips brought the All-Stars level, then Landon Donovan won it in his final ASG appearance. It was at times a chippy affair, and at the end Bayern coach Pep Guardiola refused a post-match handshake from MLS All-Star and Portland Timbers coach Caleb Porter because he was upset about some of the physical play by the All-Stars. It was played in front of a full house at Providence Park, and Colorado is hoping for the same in 2015.

Tottenham will be a challenge for the MLS team, but the side we’re seeing now in the Premier League likely will look different in July, especially if Spurs don’t get a place in Europe. The club will continue to build around Kane, hoping that the big money European clubs won’t come after him like they did with Spurs’ last superstar, Gareth Bale.

But the game will be the final bit of what’s become a massive week for MLS. It’s the league’s chance to show off, having their best players go against a famous club and mix with sponsors and fans.

The All-Star Game is a big deal, and having Tottenham aboard is worthy of a highlight on the American soccer calendar.

Ray MARCHAM

Nationality:
USA
College:
Washington State
Club Domestic:
Portland Timbers
Club Foreign:
Arsenal
Cascadia native and a fan for as long as he can remember, Ray was brought up on the old NASL. Learned to love MLS. Wanted to play like Clive Charles. Then like Tony Adams. Only dreams, of course.
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