Featured Matches
Previous
Atletico Madrid
Real Madrid
ESPNDeportes, ESPN3 8:30 PM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 1 - 1
Game Details
Bayern Munich
VfL Wolfsburg
0
0
LIVE 6'
Game Details
Evian Thonon Gaillard
Paris Saint-Germain
0
0
LIVE 14'
Game Details
US Pescara
Chievo Verona
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Guimaraes
FC Penafiel
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
FC Dallas
Real Salt Lake
1:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Morelia
U.A.N.L
ESPNDeportes 12:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Bayern Munich
VfL Wolfsburg
0
0
LIVE 6'
Game Details
Evian Thonon Gaillard
Paris Saint-Germain
0
0
LIVE 14'
Game Details
Aldershot Town
Forest Green Rovers
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Atletico Madrid
Real Madrid
ESPNDeportes, ESPN3 8:30 PM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 1 - 1
Game Details
US Pescara
Chievo Verona
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Heidenheimer SB
TSV 1860 Munich
2
2
FT
Game Details
RB Leipzig
FC Erzgebirge Aue
1
0
FT
Game Details
St Pauli
SV Sandhausen
2
1
FT
Game Details
AC Ajaccio
Tours
0
0
LIVE 0'
Game Details
Angers
Chateauroux
0
1
LIVE 42'
Game Details
Arles
Sochaux
0
0
LIVE 0'
Game Details
AS Nancy Lorraine
Nimes
0
0
LIVE 41'
Game Details
Clermont Foot
Ajaccio GFCO
0
0
LIVE 0'
Game Details
Créteil
Niort
1
0
LIVE 44'
Game Details
Orléans
Brest
1
0
LIVE 5'
Game Details
Troyes
Stade Laval
0
0
LIVE 15'
Game Details
Valenciennes
Le Havre AC
0
3
LIVE 42'
Game Details
SC Heracles Almelo
Cambuur Leeuwarden
0
0
LIVE 42'
Game Details
Almere City
Jong FC Twente
0
0
LIVE 36'
Game Details
FC Den Bosch
RKC Waalwijk
0
1
LIVE 33'
Game Details
FC Emmen VV
Jong PSV
1
0
LIVE 4'
Game Details
Helmond Sport
FC Oss
2
0
LIVE 35'
Game Details
Jong Ajax
FC Volendam
0
2
LIVE 38'
Game Details
MVV Maastricht
Sparta Rotterdam
0
1
LIVE 15'
Game Details
NEC Nijmegen
Fortuna Sittard
2
1
LIVE 44'
Game Details
Roda JC Kerkrade
FC Eindhoven
1
0
LIVE 31'
Game Details
SC Stormvogels Telstar
Achilles '29
1
0
LIVE 25'
Game Details
VVV Venlo
De Graafschap
1
0
LIVE 36'
Game Details
Guimaraes
FC Penafiel
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Terek Grozny
FC Arsenal Tula
3
0
FT
Game Details
Racing Genk
KAA Gent
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Mjallby
Helsingborg
1
2
LIVE 81'
Game Details
Sandnes Ulf
Viking FK
2
1
LIVE 77'
Game Details
FC Dallas
Real Salt Lake
1:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Morelia
U.A.N.L
ESPNDeportes 12:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Santos
Toluca
2:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Newi Cefn Druids
Aberystwyth
0
1
LIVE 9'
Game Details
Prestatyn Town
Connah's Quay
0
0
LIVE 0'
Game Details
T.N.S.
Bangor City
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Arsenal de Sarandí
Olimpo de Bahía Blanca
9:15 PM GMT
Game Details
Tigre
Racing Club
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Atlante
Coras Tepic
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Mineros de Zacatecas
Oaxaca
12:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Correcaminos
Dorados de Sinaloa
1:30 AM GMT
Game Details
América Mineiro
AA Ponte Preta
10:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Oeste
Boa MG
10:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Icasa
CR Vasco da Gama
12:50 AM GMT
Game Details
Santiago Wanderers
Audax Italiano
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Defensor Sporting
Rentistas
10:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Liga de Loja
Club Deportivo Cuenca
12:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Universidad De Costa Rica
Pumas Generalena
5:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Honduras Progreso
Platense
1:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Next
Jul 22, 2008

Nicol fills out all-star roster with West Ham in mind

All-star games and player drafts are North American sporting concepts, and it is questionable whether they have any real relevance in soccer.

An all-star game with nothing at stake usually results in satire. It can be inspired satire, such as when gaudily clad Jorge Campos left the goalkeeper position to make an upfield run and take a shot on goal in the first MLS all-star game in 1996. But, until MLS started bringing in club opponents, its all-star game was little more than a glorified kick-around.

Now, though, MLS is putting its reputation on the line by matching its all-star team against West Ham United. MLS probably could have found a more intriguing foe than West Ham, but the Hammers will have to do.

In any case, the MLS all-star game no longer follows the blueprint of other sports' all-star games. The event still is a feel-good exercise for the league and sponsors, but there is an edge to it because the game is competitive.

New England coach Steve Nicol understands very well this new concept of an all-star game. And this helps explain his player choices for Thursday's game in Toronto.

2008 MLS All-Star Game
Thursday
MLS All-Stars vs. West Ham
BMO Field, Toronto
7 p.m. ET (ESPN, ESPN360.com)

There is little sentiment in Nicol's selections. Each was made with the thought of tactically outmanuevering West Ham United.

Other players might "deserve" to be all-stars, but only if we are thinking of this as a traditional all-star game -- that is, as an exhibition. But it's no longer that. And that's not a bad thing, except that many contracts have bonus clauses for all-star selection.

But this is another reason Nicol is well suited to coaching the MLS all-star team.

Nicol never had heard of all-star games or drafts before moving to the United States in 1999. He never thought about trading up in the draft, simply taking the best player available, from Pat Noonan to Clint Dempsey to Michael Parkhurst. Since getting into the technicalities of the draft, Nicol has not done any better.

Fortunately, Nicol is similarly unburdened by outdated concepts of an all-star contest. He is not influenced by agents pushing clients for all-star bonuses or a team's campaign to promote a player. Nicol is making purely tactical decisions.

As for those bonuses, Nicol's watchword is that winning solves all problems. Others have similar inclinations toward winning, but Nicol has been the best in MLS at devising tactics and keeping his teams fresh and motivated since taking over the Revolution in 2002.

If the MLS all-stars defeat West Ham United, everyone involved with the league will profit, eventually. And everyone will pay, in some way, for a poor MLS performance.

Nicol has made sure the MLSers are uniquely motivated and/or qualified to take on West Ham.

Who better than Juan Pablo Angel to go at an English team's defenders, especially with David Beckham crossing? Angel knows exactly who he is going against, and he has plenty to prove.

Jim Brennan at left back? Again, Brennan should know the Hammers because of his pre-MLS experience. And, late in the game, when West Ham is bound to be tiring (those players are, after all, in preseason training mode), Jonathan Bornstein will come in to run the wing. Canadians playing at home? A little extra inspiration for all.

The MLS all-star game was conceived as a celebration for the league. But it won't be much fun if the all-stars lose.

Frank Dell'Apa is a soccer columnist for The Boston Globe and ESPN.

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.