Tata Martino unveils MLS All-Star team for 'great spectacle' vs. Juventus
Atlanta United coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino believes the 2018 MLS All-Stars can offer up a “great spectacle” against Juventus, as he revealed the rest of his team on Friday.
“This is a team that likes to attack, to score goals, so that should provide a great spectacle for the fans,” said Martino in an exclusive interview with ESPN FC. “But it also has to be evened out by players who can defend well and can dispossess opponents.”
Martino filled out the squad after fans picked the first 11 players earlier this week — including five from the Argentine coach’s Atlanta United — for the Aug. 1 game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium that will air on ESPN.
The former Barcelona and Argentina boss feels like the heavy presence of players from the home team will make for an exciting atmosphere.
“I think the fact that the game is in Atlanta and you have so many Atlanta players will really add to the spectacle. The fans here are very enthusiastic and it will be exciting for all of us,” said Martino.
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On a personal level for Martino, he is looking forward to having the chance to work with the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, David Villa and others.
There are some really great players in this team: Zlatan, Villa, [Carlos] Vela, [Sebastian] Giovinco, [Ignacio] Piatti, [Miguel] Almiron is another. We cannot lose sight of the fact of that these players will play 30 minutes or so instead of 90, but it is a nice challenge for this group to play against Juventus and we’ll try to do our best,” said Martino.
There will also be a Russia 2018 flavor to Martino’s squad, with four World Cup players — Francisco Calvo, Yoshimar Yotun, Jonathan dos Santos and Vela — included in the squad. Vela, in particular, has impressed Martino with his play in Russia.
“I think Vela has played very well in this World Cup. You could see in the match against Germany how much he played a part in that victory. He is proving that you can be a player in MLS and still be decisive in the World Cup and he’s showing he’s one of the best forwards in the world,” said Martino.
Among the 26 names on Martino’s roster, 17 different nationalities are represented with a near equal distribution among CONMEBOL, CONCACAF and UEFA nations, which further reflects the diversity seen in MLS.
“To see not only so many different teams represented but also nations from North America, South America and Europe, it will be a nice celebration for the league,” Martino said.
MLS commissioner Don Garber reserves two picks selected by the league, and this year he opted to name Vancouver Whitecaps teenager Alphonso Davies and New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips.
Wright-Phillips has scored 11 goals this year, second only behind Josef Martinez’s 14. Missing from the All-Star squad, however, are the next three top scorers: San Jose’s Danny Hoesen, Columbus’ Gyasi Zardes and New England’s Teal Bunbury.
2018 MLS All-Star Game Roster: (*-Fan XI)
Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan* (Atlanta United), Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew SC)
Defenders: Francisco Calvo (Minnesota United), Laurent Ciman* (LAFC), Alphonso Davies (Vancouver Whitecaps), Matt Hedges (FC Dallas), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Michael Murillo (New York Red Bulls), Michael Parkhurst* (Atlanta United), Yoshimar Yotun (Orlando City), Graham Zusi* (Sporting Kansas City)
Midfielders: Miguel Almiron* (Atlanta United), Ezequiel Barco* (Atlanta United), Jonathan dos Santos (LA Galaxy), Alberth Elis (Houston Dynamo), Ilie Sanchez (Sporting Kansas City), Ignacio Piatti (Montreal Impact), Alexander Ring (New York City FC), Diego Valeri* (Portland Timbers), Wilfried Zahibo (New England Revolution)
Forwards: Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto FC), Zlatan Ibrahimovic* (LA Galaxy), Josef Martinez* (Atlanta United), Carlos Vela* (LAFC), David Villa (New York City FC), Bradley Wright-Phillips (New York Red Bulls)
Injured: Darlington Nagbe* (Atlanta United)
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