The Liga MX All-Stars are in St. Paul, Minnesota, looking to exact revenge on the MLS All-Stars after the northerners defeated their southern neighbors in a penalty kick shoot-out.
For the second year in a row, the rival leagues are participating in a soccer festival that features the All-Star Game and a Skills Challenge. Last year, the gala event was held at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles while this year’s extravaganza is being held at Allianz Field, home of MLS side Minnesota United FC.
On Tuesday night, MLS struck the first blow, defeating Liga MX in the Skills Challenge (Liga MX won the Skills Challenge last year).
The All-Star Game kicks off Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. local time. In anticipation of the showdown, here are a few odds and ends.
Pachuca leads the way
Last season’s losing finalist boasts six Liga MX All-Stars: goalie Oscar Ustari; defenders Kevin Álvarez and Gustavo Cabral; midfielders Luis Chávez and Víctor Guzmán; winger Avilés Hurtado. Two-time defending Liga MX champs Atlas has five players on the Liga MX roster: goalie Camilo Vargas; defenders Luis Reyes and Hugo Nervo; forwards Julián Quiñones and Julio Furch. The Zorros had a sixth player named to the All-Star team – Aldo Rocha – but a thigh injury forced the Atlas skipper to bow out.
Atlas coach Diego Cocca will be in charge of the Liga MX team.
Five repeat All-Stars on each team
Each side features five players who played in last season’s All-Star Game. For Liga MX, Kevin Álvarez (Pachuca), Juan Escobar (Cruz Azul defender), Erik Lira (Cruz Azul midfielder this season, Pumas last year), Víctor Guzmán (Pachuca) and Alexis Vega (Chivas winger).
Seattle Sounders striker Raúl Ruidíaz, Philadelphia Union left back Kai Wagner, LA Galaxy right back Julián Araujo, Nashville SC central defender Walker Zimmerman and Philadelphia Union goalie Andre Blake are making their second consecutive appearance with the MLS All-Stars.
MLS roster valued more highly than Liga MX roster
Soccer nerds love comparing rosters and player values. The website Marca Claro provided this info for the upcoming All-Star Game, relying on the data found at the popular Transfermarkt website.
Just like last year’s contest, the MLS All-Star roster outvalues that of their opponents. This year, the value of players on the MLS team exceeds that of the Liga MX aside by just under $1 million. Transfermarkt values the MLS players at $110.83 million while their opponents are valued at $109.89 million.
Last year, the MLS roster enjoyed a $33 million advantage ($132 million compared to $98.8 million for Liga MX).
Minnesota United FC coach Adrian Heath will be in charge of the MLS squad while U.S. referee Joe Dickerson will take the whistle. There will be a new MVP this time around as goalie Matt Turner – the hero of last year’s penalty kick shoot-out – now plays with Arsenal in the EPL.