The growth of Major League Soccer (MLS) over the past several years is perhaps reflected best in the roster for its All-Star game. The players representing MLS against Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur have won World Cups, Champions League titles and league titles from all over Europe.
International stars such as Kaká, Sebastian Giovinco and David Villa—and, if not for injury, Frank Lampard—headline the roster. But where this roster differs from years past is in its depth. Fans selected nine players to the team, coach Pablo Mastroeni picked another 13and MLS Commissioner Don Garber added one more.
Players like Kei Kamara (Columbus), Gyasi Zardes (LA) and Fabian Castillo (Dallas) were all coach’s picks, and the roster is littered with USMNTers, including Clint Dempsey (Seattle), Benny Feilhaber (Kansas City) and Graham Zusi (Kansas City).
“For me, it’s by far the most talented group of players representing MLS since I’ve been a part of the league,” said Seattle Sounders star Clint Dempsey.
MLS is the only soccer league in the world that plays an All-Star game, but the idea isn’t new to Kaká, who said he grew up watching the NBA and NFL and their All-Star games.
The league’s growth and the chance to be a part of it are why he came to MLS. Kaká has brought the league global attention it might not get otherwise, but that will soon change.
“Playing here and being part of this growing phase of MLS, probably I will not see the best phase of MLS but I will be part of this [growing] time, so in the future we are going to be one of the best leagues in the world here,” he said.
Dempsey started his professional career in MLS back in 2004. After three years, he went to play in England with Fulham and later Tottenham, but came back to MLS for the prime of his career.
“[MLS] gave me an opportunity to go pro and to play here in this league, so I love the league for that. I enjoyed my time playing in Europe, but for me, it was important to come back and raise my family here,” said Dempsey. “So to be able to come back to a league that plays an exciting style and try to grow the game is what it’s all about.”
With a roster loaded with talent, the question is just how to get all those players on the field.
“I think it’s a little problem for the coach with these players together having a good game, but this probably we will be good for the game,” said Kaká.
The 2015 MLS All-Star game, played at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Colorado, will kick off on Wednesday, July 29, at 9 p.m. ET and will be televised on FOX Sports 1 and UniMás.