Preview of the MLS All-Star Game
Major League Soccer's annual All-Star Game is Wednesday at PPL Park in suburban Philadelphia, and the league's best players will match up against European champion Chelsea. MLS is winless in its last three All-Star Games versus European clubs after winning its first four such matches.
Here is a statistical preview of the match:
• Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder David Beckham has built his goal-scoring reputation on his ability to score from long range. Beckham has six goals this season, all of which have been scored from an average distance of more than 30 yards. Beckham is not the only long-range scoring threat for the MLS All-Star Team. The Red Bulls' Thierry Henry is capable of finishing goal-scoring chances from 20-plus yards similar to Beckham. Henry and Beckham have combined to score four of the 11 free-kick goals in MLS this season.
• Chris Wondolowski has scored a league-high 17 goals this season for the San Jose Earthquakes, and he has accumulated most of those goals via his efficiency in the penalty area. Wondolowski is first, or tied for first, in MLS in touches (110), shots on goal (27) and goals (16) in the penalty area.
• Seattle Sounders forward Eddie Johnson has rediscovered his goal-scoring form, and it helps that he is literally using his head. Johnson has scored five of his eight goals on headers this season, which is third in MLS and one behind both All-Star teammate Chris Wondolowski and Alan Gordon, both of the San Jose Earthquakes.
• The additions of Eden Hazard and Marko Marin give Chelsea an attacking dimension that it has lacked the past two seasons. Both Hazard and Marin excel at dribbling past opponents in the attacking third of the field. Across the top leagues in Europe (England, Germany, France, Italy, Spain), Hazard and Marin ranked among the top five in successful take-on dribbles the last two seasons. Hazard, who transferred from Lille in France, was third with 113 and Marin, who came to Chelsea from German side Werder Bremen, had 108. Only Barcelona's Lionel Messi (249) and Bayern Munich's Franck Ribery (124) had more in a major European league.
• Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard has been one of his team's most reliable goal-scoring threats with 24 goals in the Barclays Premier League and UEFA Champions League the past two seasons. Lampard is especially effective from the penalty spot. Across all competitions, Lampard has scored nine penalty-kick goals, which is tied for second among players in Europe's five major leagues and two cup competitions.