For the 17th year in succession, American football (or soccer, for the sake of not confusing anyone) comes together in an attempt to showcase its talents with a prestige showcase friendly against a major club that features all the best players the MLS has to offer.
It is Chelsea who will provide the opposition for the MLS All Stars, who feature a mixture of the best American players the league has to offer (Landon Donovan, Eddie Johnson) with the big-name overseas stars that the league uses in order to raise its profile, such as David Beckham and Thierry Henry.
The standard of the MLS is open to debate – it has many deriders, despite its obvious upturn in quality compared to the days when George Best appeared for Los Angeles Aztecs, Fort Lauderdale Strikers and San Jose Earthquakes – but the cream of the crop are good enough to give Chelsea a decent game at this stage of their pre-season schedule as Roberto Di Matteo focuses on masterminding a tilt at the Premier League title.
The way to play this one might be to look towards the goals markets.
Club Friendlies Singha All Star XI win £250.00 (23/2) Draw £125.00 (21/4) Chelsea win £23.00 (3/20)
Having overseen a Champions League win, Di Matteo’s priority is now well and truly the bread and butter of the domestic championship and with the backing of Roman Abramovich (financially, anyway) the Italian is overseeing an overhaul of the playing staff at Stamford Bridge.
Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou and Paolo Ferreira are among the big name high earners to be moved on and with exciting new signings in the shape of Marko Marin and everybody’s favourite new egotist Eden Hazard, it appears Chelsea mean business after a few years off the pace in the Premier League.
With an added attacking verve to their play, the owner’s wish of attractive, expansive football may be about to be granted in a move away from the conservative, defensive manner in which Chelsea won the Champions League in May.
So with Di Matteo looking to integrate new players and a more attacking philosophy, a match against MLS All-Stars gives him the chance to do just that. The Blues are 12/25 to beat the Americans, who are 9/2 to win their big outing. The draw is 3/1.
The way to play this one, however, might be to look towards the goals markets. MLS All-Stars are top heavy with attacking talent and certainly have a goal or two in them, while there could be an understandable lack of cohesion at the back due to the fact the players have just been thrown together at short notice.
Similarly, if Chelsea’s 4-2 win over Seattle Sounders is anything to go by, the Blues are looking sharp and focussed. Both Hazard and Marin got on the scoresheet in that win and I think there are going to be plenty of goals when the two teams meet.
It is 5/4 for over 3.5 goals, which is shorter than you would expect but still a good odds-against bet in a friendly where entertainment is the name of the game. You can get 3/1 on five or more goals, which is also worth a play.
Recommended bet: over 3.5 goals @ 5/4
Outside punt: 5 or more goals @ 3/1
Follow us on Twitter @bwin