Thursday 30 July 2015 09:01, UK
As Tottenham continue their pre-season preparations with an exhibition match against the MLS All-Stars on July 30 we profile the possible starting XI Tottenham could come up against in Colorado….
(Possible formation: 3-4-3)
The most senior player in the squad and most selected All-Star player in league history, Real Salt Lake’s net minder looks set to start to make his sixth MLS All-Star appearance.
The 36-year-old has consistently been regarded as one of the league’s premier shot stoppers and has been a staple of the Salt Lake team for the last eight seasons, previously playing for DC United as well having a brief stint at the now-defunct Miami Fusion.
The former Rangers winger now plies his trade permanently at left-back and after his return to MLS to Houston Dynamo midway through last season from Mexican club Puebla, where he spent three years, the US international has quickly earned himself a spot back in the All-Star squad for the first time since 2003.
The 33-year-old’s raw pace and work rate gives him the opportunity to match up against the likes of Andros Townsend or Erik Lamela as he aims to wind back the years in Colorado in his fourth appearance in the squad.
The commanding LA Galaxy centre-back has continued his natural progression into one of USA’s most important defenders after being selected to play in the All-Star game for the third consecutive season.
The Galaxy defender had his Designated Player contract bought down last week to pave way for Mexican international Giovani Dos Santos. Yet since joining the Galaxy in 2009, Gonzalez has contributed to the Galaxy lifting three MLS Cups (2011, 2012, 2014) as well as collecting many individual accolades that include MLS Rookie of the Year, Defender of the Year and has attained Best XI honours four times.
Laurent Ciman was Montreal Impact’s marquee signing this pre-season. Four months into the campaign and the Belgian international will be preparing for his MLS All-Star debut.
The 28-year-old's primary reason for leaving Belgian club Standard Liege was to get adequate healthcare for his five-year-old autistic daughter.
But on the pitch, Ciman has delivered performances that have caught the eye of fans, coaches and players alike across MLS. His experience has been pivotal to Montreal’s successes this season, including a notable surprise run to the CONCACAF Champions League final.
The US international has been integral to the revamped Toronto FC this season, squad that boasts other key pieces such as Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore.
The playmaker and USA captain, who has two goals and three assists in 13 appearances this season, is making the squad for the second straight year and will thrive at the opportunity to try and dictate the tempo against Tottenham. Similarly for his club, Bradley could play an advanced role in behind one or two strikers.
One of MLS commissioner Don Garber’s two picks for the All-Star team, Steven Gerrard will experience his first ever All-Star game. On his debut, Gerrard scored one and set up another as his new team beat San Jose 5-2 in the California Clasico on July 17.
The former Liverpool captain will undoubtedly be met by a wild reception as he steps out onto the field versus a team he scored in both fixtures against.
In this exhibition match, will the age-old debate on whether Gerrard and Lampard can play together in central midfield rear its head again?
Lampard was the Commissioner’s other pick for a game that sees the league’s highest profile players pit their wits against some of the best in world football.
The former Chelsea midfielder, who ended his time in the Premier League at Manchester City, could be an influential figure in the game as he - like Gerrard - looks set to make his first ever All-Star appearance.
The big question may be over fitness as the 37-year-old looks to return from a calf injury that has sidelined him for two weeks. An MLS debut against Orlando City on Sunday night, followed by the All-Star game in Denver three days later, may mean he sees limited game time.
MLS’ highest paid player has also been one of the league’s most influential in his first season in Florida.
The Brazilian has nine goals and two assists in 19 league appearances for Orlando to make the former FIFA World Player of the Year joint fourth in the Golden Boot race standings.
His first ever All-Star appearance may not be his last if he maintains the consistency that has helped bed him into the American game.
Seven goals and six assists in 12 appearances for Seattle Sounders this season makes Clint Dempsey an unsurprising inclusion to the All-Star lineup. There may be added spice for the US international as he plays against his former club Tottenham, who he left back in 2013.
Capable of playing just behind the striker or spearheading the attack in a partnership. Clint Dempsey’s close ball control, vision and work-rate are just some of the attributes that make him one of the league’s most dangerous attackers.
Tottenham’s defence will have to stay alert to a potential game-changing moment from the 32-year-old.
Eyebrows were raised when Giovinco was not selected to the MLS fan XI but head coach Pablo Mastroeni decided to use one of his picks on the ‘Atomic Ant’. A storming start to the 28-year-old’s season sees him sit second in the MLS Golden Boot standings on 12 goals, which included a nine minute hat-trick against New York City, and puts him joint third in the assist charts on nine.
Giovinco has already been named player of the week three times this season, making it difficult to see the All-Star team without the Italian.
New York City’s first designated player will shortly be joined by Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo, but it is the Spaniard who has been leading NYCFC’s steadily improving start to their first-ever season.
The 33-year-old leads the club with 10 goals while tied for a team-high three assists. He scored two goals and created one in the pulsating 4-4 draw against Toronto that also saw Giovinco score three on July 12.