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Branding Exercise Complete: MLS All-Stars 1, Real Madrid 1, recap

Market activations! So many market activations!

MLS: All-Star Game
Dax! andDombut Dax! played very well for MLS All-Stars despite the fact they’re not really a thing. Hey, real football returns Saturday.
Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

MLS All-Stars 1 (Dwyer 87)

Real Madrid 1 (Mayoral 59)

If you’re looking for a glimpse into the narrow, airless spaces where MLS’ soul should be, there’s no better place to look than the MLS All-Star Game. Billed as a chance to connect the furthest striving of American soccer with its soul-brethren in Europe - and simultaneously participate in that most American of midseason distractions, the no-stakes all-star exhibition - the MLS All-Star Game is football game as golem, with a void where passion should be, the insensate whole shambling forward at its masters’ behest, collecting market activations and social media mentions, its expression turned inward, brought to you by Target-adidas-TrueCar and a whole list of other immortal entities which threaten to block out the sun.

So the 2017 MLS All-Star game against Real Madrid became a weird, bloodless bit of physio-mental chess, a let’s-not-hurt-each-other grappling between the all-conquering Lords of Europe - or, at least, their cousins and buddies - and a purpose-built collection of ringers. The end result didn’t matter, and I’d not note it except that it would seem a bit churlish not to do so. So: Real Madrid defeated MLS All-Stars on penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw through 90 minutes.

Dom Dwyer got the goal in the 87th for MLS after Dax McCarty’s bullet header from a corner was saved by Madrid keeper Luka.

MLS (no record) won’t play again, because they’re not a team, except in the transfer market according to FIFA or someone’s really crap hacked Football Manager save. Real Madrid will play a real team at some point in the very near future.

Notes

Stalemate: After 90 minutes played to a 1-1 draw, one thing is clear: MLS has some guys who can think a bit now. Madrid seemed surprised at MLS’ willingness to pass out of pressure in the first half, which did a lot slow that press down. The game was extremely clean and balanced; each team had periods of ascendancy. Overall, a draw would’ve been a fair result.

Our guys: Our majestic two-headed monster in the middle of midfield was splint in twain today, with Bastian Schweinsteiger captaining the first half and Dax McCarty replacing him (with the armband) in the second. Their ability to read the press and find space meant MLS never really struggled to play out of defense and through midfield. Johan Kappelhof started and showed well, with his only notable problem being a potential handball call in the early stages where the no-call was likely the right one. Nemanja Nikolic played 30 minutes as a front-runner in the second half and got one really great look that he couldn’t put on goal. Finally, Velko Paunovic and his staff did a fantastic job laying out a simple shape and allowing the talent to show itself.