Real ex­pected to give MLS stars intense match

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

CHICAGO:

Vet­eran goal­keeper Tim Howard says top North Amer­i­can club play­ers should ex­pect “cut-throat” com­pe­ti­tion from Span­ish gi­ants Real Madrid in to­day’s Ma­jor League Soc­cer All-Star Game. The All-Star match at Sol­dier Field, home of the NFL’s Chicago Bears, marks the end of a four-match, 11-day pre-sea­son US tour for Real Madrid that in­cluded a 3-2 loss to ri­val Barcelona in a Cla­sico matchup at Mi­ami. But Howard ex­pects Real Madrid to bring their best as they pre­pare for the up­com­ing La Liga cam­paign.

“When you get to play for a team like Real Madrid, there’s no days off,” Howard said. “There are no easy games. They have a world-class coach that they are try­ing to im­press. “They have got to play well to earn a spot com­ing up for the La Liga sea­son. World foot­ball is intense and it’s cut-throat. There aren’t any days when guys just take it easy. When you put your jer­sey on and cross the linewhether it’s a tour­na­ment, a reg­u­lar-sea­son game, a pre-sea­son game, an Al­lS­tar Game-these guys are go­ing to be up for it.” Colorado Rapids goal­keeper Howard will start in goal for Chicago Fire coach Veljiko Paunovic in the mid-sea­son ex­hi­bi­tion.

In 2001, Howard rep­re­sented the East in a con­fer­ence ver­sus con­fer­ence Al­lS­tar Game and in the fol­low­ing year he was part of an MLS All-Star squad that took on US na­tional team. He played against the MLS All-Stars when he re­turned with English Premier­ship side Ever­ton in 2009 in the cur­rent for­mat that pits the All-Stars against top-flight Euro­pean com­pe­ti­tion.

“I’m not sure which one’s bet­ter,” he said of the var­i­ous per­mu­ta­tions of the All-Star Game he has ex­pe­ri­enced. “But it will be cer­tainly ex­cit­ing to play Real Madrid-there’s no ques­tion about that.” The All-Stars fea­ture plenty of heavy­weights with mar­quee match ex­pe­ri­ence, in­clud­ing World Cup win­ners Bas­tian Sch­we­in­steiger, David Villa and Kaka. “It’s an honor to play for the MLS All-Star team, es­pe­cially here in Chicago,” said the Fire’s Ger­man im­port Sch­we­in­steiger, who launched his MLS ca­reer this sea­son and will cap­tain the All-Stars by pop­u­lar vote. “We will look to have a good game, to be com­pet­i­tive against Real Madrid and if we can win, we will go for the match,” Sch­we­in­steiger told the Chicago Tri­bune.

“We know that it is a very strong team and that we are play­ing to­gether for the first time. It is not go­ing to be easy at all, but we will try and have a good game and en­joy it a lit­tle.” Orlando City’s Brazil­ian star Kaka, who helped Real Madrid to the 2011-12 La Liga ti­tle, said fac­ing his for­mer team will be “a very emo­tional ex­pe­ri­ence.” “I do not know how the game will go, but we have a great team to play a very even game with Real Madrid,” he said. —AFP

CLAIREFONTAINE-EN-YVELINES: This file photo taken on June 5, 2017 shows France’s de­fender Christophe Jal­let (C) at­tend­ing a train­ing ses­sion in Clairefontaine-enYve­lines as part of the team’s prepa­ra­tion for the up­com­ing WC 2018 qual­i­fiers against Swe­den on June 9. Jal­let, for­mer de­fender of PSG and OL, con­tin­ues his ca­reer in Nice and hopes to par­tic­i­pate in the Foot­ball world Cup 2018. —AFP

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