MLS

Rooney to coach MLS All-Stars in Arsenal friendly

By Sports Desk March 21, 2023

Arsenal will face the MLS All-Stars, who will be coached by Wayne Rooney, in a friendly in July.

The annual MLS All-Star Game sees a squad made up of players from across the league come together to face an opponent.

For the last two years, the MLS All-Stars have played a Liga MX All-Stars team, with the team from the United States' top tier emerging victorious on both occasions.

However, the 2023 edition will see the MLS All-Stars return to playing a European club, with Arsenal appearing in the exhibition event for a second time.

The Gunners beat an All-Stars side that included Andrea Pirlo, Kaka, Didier Drogba and David Villa 2-1 in San Jose in 2016.

This year's match will be held at Audi Field in Washington, D.C, with England's joint-record goalscorer Rooney – who coaches D.C. United in MLS – set to take charge of the All-Stars.

"I've had a front-row seat to watch the growth and development of Major League Soccer, first as a player and now as a manager," said Rooney in a statement.

"The opportunity to lead the best our league has to offer against a top Premier League club like Arsenal will be a highlight for me personally and an unforgettable experience for our passionate fanbase here in D.C."

Mikel Arteta said: "It's great that we're playing against the MLS All-Stars in Washington D.C. in July.

"Our US tour [in 2022] was very good preparation for the season, and we're looking forward to once again visiting our amazing supporters in the US. The match against the MLS All-Stars will be a good test ahead of the 2023-24 season."

On July 18, 10 Arsenal players will also go up against 10 MLS players in the Skills Challenge, which will again be held at Audi Field.

Arsenal are eight points clear at the top of the Premier League with 10 games remaining, while Rooney's D.C. United are 11th in the Eastern Conference in MLS with four points from as many games this season.

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    Oscar Pareja admires the fight Orlando City are showing as they prepare to welcome Columbus Crew to Inter & Co Stadium on Saturday.

    Orlando are unbeaten in their last three matches, including a late victory over San Jose Earthquakes last weekend.

    They are now within one point of the playoffs in the Eastern Conference, sitting 10th on 16 points.

    Pareja praised his team for being able to hold onto results in recent weeks, but he now wants to translate that into consistent success at home.

    "I see a team that is growing," Pareja said. "Their confidence is growing.

    "The way we're playing is much better in terms of efficiency on the other side of the box, and we're proud. The thing that we're most happy with is seeing them try to do the right thing.

    "They've got through difficult moments together. The way they fight every single game is always the same. We're more knowledgeable now that we're getting results, but I haven't seen one game where they gave up.

    "Now we need to go and do it at home in front of our fans. Nothing has changed, we just haven't been very good in some home games, but we will be."

    Columbus sit five points above Saturday’s opponents, having won back-to-back games against CF Montreal and the Chicago Fire.

    Going into the third of their successive away matches, head coach Wilfried Nancy hailed the Crew’s spirit.

    "It's true that last year I didn't like the spirit that when we were playing away - it was not the same spirit," he said.

    "Now, they try to play their game home or away. This is something that for me, this is growth. This is something that has been better."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Orlando City – Pedro Gallese

    Gallese has kept clean sheets in two straight matches after Orlando managed just two in their first 11 regular season matches in 2024.

    The Lions have never kept a clean sheet in three straight league matches within a single season before.

    Columbus Crew – Diego Rossi

    Rossi managed a goal and two assists in Columbus’ win over Chicago last Saturday. It was his sixth MLS match with at least three goal contributions (including playoffs) but his first with the Crew.

    MATCH PREDICTION – DRAW

    Orlando City have won just one of their first seven home matches this MLS season (three draws, three losses), with their six points won equalling the fewest they have ever recorded in their first seven home matches of a season (also in 2015).

    Meanwhile, Columbus have lost only one of their last eight away matches in MLS (four wins, three draws incl. playoffs), including winning their last two in a row on the road. The Crew have not won three consecutive away matches in the league since a four-match run between August and September 2015.

    Columbus knocked Orlando out of last season’s MLS Cup Playoffs with a 2-0 road win in the Conference Semifinals. That win was just the Crew’s second in their last 11 meetings with Orlando dating back to October 2018 (one draw, eight losses).

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Orlando City – 34.5%

    Draw – 26.8%

    Columbus Crew – 38.7%

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    The Fire sit 14th in the Eastern Conference standings after losing four straight games, with three of those defeats coming at home including last week's 3-1 reverse against the Columbus Crew. 

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    D.C. are also looking to respond after back-to-back losses to the New York Red Bulls (1-4) and Inter Miami (0-1), with those results leaving them ninth in the East.

    Troy Lesesne's team have won praise for their counter-pressing approach this year, but he says they still have plenty of room for improvement when playing on the break.

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    Benteke has scored 11 of D.C.'s 20 goals this season, with no other team-mate netting more than once in MLS play.

    D.C. United are one of two MLS teams (also the Houston Dynamo) to only have one player with multiple goals this season.

    Chicago Fire – Carlos Teran 

    Teran scored the Fire's only goal against the Crew last week and has now netted once for them in each of the last four seasons, making him the only player to score in each of the last four campaigns for Chicago.

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    MATCH PREDICTION – D.C. UNITED WIN 

    Chicago's tally of 10 points through 14 matches in 2024 is their worst total at this stage of a season in club history.

    Things may not get any better for them on Saturday against a team known for employing an energetic approach.

    D.C. United recorded a 4-0 home win over Chicago in the teams' last meeting last September, and they are looking to post back-to-back victories over the Fire for the first time since a four-game winning run against them between 2014 and 2016.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    D.C. United – 47.7%

    Chicago Fire – 26.6% 

    Draw – 25.7% 

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    Toronto are fifth in the Eastern standings after crushing rivals CF Montreal 5-1 in their last league game.

    They followed up that win by beating Saint-Laurent 8-1 in the Canadian Championship on Tuesday, and boss John Herdman is delighted to see their forwards enjoying themselves. 

    "They're just enjoying their football at the minute, really enjoying it," Herdman said. "I've got to tip my hat to the lads. I just can't wait to see this whole team playing together. 

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    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Toronto FC – Lorenzo Insigne  

    Federico Bernardeschi scored his first career hat-trick in Toronto's derby win last week, but then picked up a late booking that will cause him to be suspended for this game. 

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    FC Cincinnati – Luciano Acosta 

    Acosta has contributed to at least one goal in a club-record eight straight matches, after recording a goal and two assists in a 3-1 win over St. Louis City last week. 

    The only longer streak in MLS since the start of last season was a nine-game run by the Columbus Crew's Cucho Hernandez, from April to June 2023.

    MATCH PREDICTION – FC CINCINNATI WIN

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    Cincinnati had won six of the previous seven meetings between the teams, in a run dating back to the start of the 2021 season (one defeat).

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    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Toronto FC – 22.7%

    FC Cincinnati – 56.4%

    Draw – 20.9%

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