- Marco Rubio: U.S. at social, moral crossroads
- ‘We’re coming for you, Barack Obama’: Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL
- White flags baffle NYPD: ‘We’re lucky it wasn’t a bomb’
- N.Y. Gov. Cuomo’s office interfered with, pressured corruption commission: report
- Brit lawmaker: I would fire on Israel if I lived in Gaza
- VA apologizes to forgotten Marine veteran locked in Fla. clinic, forced to call 911
- U.S. social and economic trends on worrisome track, survey finds
- McDonald nomination unanimously referred to full Senate
- Chuck Norris honorary chairman of NRA voter registration campaign
- GOP outraged Obamacare investigators able to get coverage with fake IDs
Britain’s David Beckham remains at heart of game’s evolution
Question of the Day
PHILADELPHIA — At 34 years old, Chelsea FC midfielder Frank Lampard has experienced his fair share of American tours. And over time, one thing has become clear: The “beautiful game” is growing.
Chelsea, the defending UEFA Champions League winner, continues its latest preseason swing through the United States with the MLS All-Star Game on Wednesday in Chester, Pa. Suiting up for the All-Stars will be a player Lampard credits with speeding soccer’s expansion: Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder David Beckham, his longtime England teammate.
“It’s evolved a great deal,” Lampard said. “I think David Beckham has been a huge influence on the game in terms of taking it worldwide. He brings a lot of attention, which has then lifted the levels of the players that have been called into the MLS. You can feel the level of the quality going up, and you can feel the level of the excitement, the level of the fans getting involved.”
It’s enthusiasm Chelsea has embraced in its first two matches of the tour. Last week, the Blues defeated the Seattle Sounders 4-2 before 53,309 at CenturyLink Field. On Sunday at New York’s Yankee Stadium, 38,202 saw them play to a 1-1 tie against Paris Saint-Germain.
Against the All-Stars at PPL Park, Chelsea will face the unique challenge taking on an opponent assembled for a single match.
“We’ve done our research,” Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo said. “This is not exactly a team that plays together every week, so it’s more difficult to predict.”
All-Stars embrace format
After typically using a format that pitted the Eastern Conference against the Western Conference in the league’s early years, the All-Star Game since 2005 has featured an MLS side taking on a high-profile European opponent.
The players agree that despite being an exhibition, the contest carries extra weight when the league’s reputation is put on the line.
“They’re more enjoyable for us,” Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder Landon Donovan said. “In the past, when it was an East-West format, you didn’t really take it all too seriously. The game was in some ways fun but a little bit false, which isn’t as exciting for us as playing a real game.”
Added New York Red Bulls striker Thierry Henry: “If you’re not happy to play against Chelsea, then there is something wrong. I’m just happy to be a part of it. You have a lot of good players in this league, and people unfortunately in Europe aren’t aware of it.”
Of course, raising the stakes means the All-Stars must put an emphasis on strategy that otherwise would be absent.
“These type of games, we just kind of worry about ourselves,” San Jose Earthquakes striker Chris Wondolowski said. “Obviously, Chelsea has very few flaws, so it’s hard to pick them out. They have a lot of strengths, so that’s why I think it’s going to be even more important to communicate and try to talk throughout the game.”
Locals relish opportunity
In addition to D.C. United’s All-Stars, Dwayne De Rosario, Chris Pontius and coach Ben Olsen, the Washington area will be represented by two more players with local ties: University of Maryland alumnus Graham Zusi of Sporting Kansas City and Crofton, Md., native Kyle Beckerman of Real Salt Lake.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
- Luis Silva realizes potential in D.C. United playmaking role
- United, D.C. hope this new stadium plan will be the last
- Jared Jeffrey returns to U.S. in search of playing time after European tour
- Sonny Silooy's career has evolved from standout defender to standout talent developer
- Alain Rochat adjusts to D.C. United move with growing family on his mind
Latest Blog Entries
- Jason Levien, Ben Olsen discuss D.C. United's $300M stadium plan
- Conor Doyle loan continues D.C. United youth movement
- Ben Olsen discusses trading Brandon McDonald to Real Salt Lake
- Interview outtakes: Sonny Silooy
- Hello Luis Silva, Collin Martin, goodbye Alain Rochat: Breaking down D.C. United's busy day
Retailer pays a price for getting too close to Obama
- CARSON: Costco and the perils of mixing politics and business
- House task force to recommend National Guard on border, faster deportations
- Obama orders Pentagon advisers to Ukraine
- Latest Obama claim: I don't learn anything from the news
- Netanyahu's Wikipedia page replaced with giant Palestinian flag
- Tom Petty: 'No one's got Christ more wrong than the Christians'
- David Perdue defeats Jack Kingston in Georgia Republican Senate primary runoff
- Two Ukrainian fighter jets shot down
- HURT: The cost of 'free' water in Detroit
- 'We're coming for you, Barack Obama': Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL terrorists
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq