MLS All-Stars 2-1 Spurs
Report from DSG Park
30 July 2015|Tottenham Hotspur
The superstars of the MLS delivered but it was goalkeeper Nick Rimando who stole the show as we somehow came away from the All-Star Game in Colorado on the losing side in the early hours of Thursday morning.
USA international and Salt Lake City stopper Rimando showed exactly why he holds the record for clean sheets in the MLS with three top-drawer saves in the first half - all to deny Harry Kane from close range.
All-time greats Kaka and David Villa scored twice in the space of three minutes in the first half to ultimately win the game for the MLS.
Kane finally got the better of Rimando in spectacular fashion to reduce arrears before half-time.
The scoreline stayed that way, but we dominated from start to finish - full-time stats showed 62-38% possession and 14-7 efforts at goal in our favour - without reaping the rewards for our efforts.
The first half saw Jan Vertonghen and summer signing Toby Alderweireld re-new the central defensive partnership that won titles at Ajax with Eric Dier in a holding midfield role and Kane lining-up for his first pre-season action.
After three behind-closed-doors friendly wins against Southend, Reading and Brentford, this was a step-up in our pre-season preparations, not least because the MLS players are half-way through their campaign and fully up to match speed. A look at the teamsheet also quickly underlined the level of opposition with Kaka and Villa joined by Clint Dempsey and USA veteran DaMarcus Beasley.
The MLS were just off target with early attempts from Dempsey and Graham Zusi but with Mousa Dembele central, we started to get a grip of the game.
It was Dembele's shot that led to our first chance as the ball deflected and looped into the path of Kane who connected sweetly only for Rimando to turn his volley wide. From Christian Eriksen's corner, Dier's header looked goalbound only for Kane to divert wide.
We were on top by now but literally handed MLS the chance to take the lead on 19 minutes when Nacer Chadli lost the flight of a corner and connected with his arm. Kaka made no mistake from the penalty spot.
Rimando's best save followed moments later as Chadli picked out Kane in front of goal. The striker made perfect contact six yards out only for Rimando to somehow block with his legs.
The crowd was still wondering how it was 1-0 when the MLS doubled their lead. Gyasi Zardes crossed from the left, Dempsey touched onto Kaka who drove low at goal and Villa was there to steer home past a helpless Michel Vorm.
We were soon back on the front foot with Kane thwarted again close-range by Rimando, this time from Eriksen's cutback.
Last season's 31-goal hero wasn't going to be denied though and produced a moment of magic in the 36th minute. He latched onto Zardes' loose pass fully 40 yards out, drove at Omar Gonzalez and hammered into the top corner from 25 yards.
Dempsey had the final chance of an entertaining half, heading straight at Vorm from a corner.
The MLS made 11 changes at the break as Kevin Wimmer, Dele Alli, Kieran Trippier and Tom Carroll entered the fray for us.
After a quiet start to the half we clicked into gear again with Trippier a constant threat down the right. He picked out Chadli in the left channel for the first chance of the half but the Belgian hit the side-netting on the stretch.
Alli found Kane well-placed, but he was crowded out and the striker fired wide from distance in our best spell.
Chadli drilled just wide from 20 yards before another series of changes saw Luke McGee, Federico Fazio, Danny Rose, Harry Winks, Josh Onomah and home favourite DeAndre Yedlin join the action on 63 minutes.
Rose did well to deny the pacy Fabian Castillo on 70 minutes as the game opened up further.
We continued to create chances. A fine move involving Alli, Winks and Kane saw Kane roll in Onomah but there wasn't enough power in his finish, saved by David Ousted. The young midfielder then stung Ousted's fingers from 20 yards.
Shaq Coulthirst replaced Kane on 77 minutes and had our final opportunity. Carroll found the striker in the right angle but he blasted over from 14 yards.
Mauricio Pochettino said
"We showed a good reaction after going 2-0 down, scored to make it 2-1 and created chances but only scored one goal," reflected Mauricio ahead of the flight back to London.
"It was a difficult game, tough and the players felt it a little in the altitude, but in the end there were lots of positives - and a lot of things that we need to improve as well."
Youngsters Josh, Shaq, Harry Winks, Dele Alli and Luke McGee all played a part in the second half and Mauricio was pleased with their contribution.
"It’s a great experience for the young players and again, there are a lot of positive things to take from that," he added. "It’s important for them to be involved in the first team because I think they are the future of the club."
MLS All-Stars: 1st half: Rimando; Beltran, Besler, Gonzalez; Beasley; McCarthy; Zusi, Kaka, Zardes; Dempsey, Villa.
2nd half: Ousted; Moor, Marshall, Ciman, Francis; Juninho, Cronin (Altidore, 77), Feilhaber, Finlay, Castillo; Kamara.
Spurs: 1st half: Vorm (McGee, 63); Walker (Trippier, 46), Alderweireld (Fazio, 63), Vertonghen (Wimmer, 46), Davies (Rose, 63); Bentaleb (Carroll, 46), Dier (Winks, 63); Chadli (Yedlin, 63), Eriksen (Alli, 46), Dembele (Onomah, 63); Kane (Coulthirst, 77).
Goals: MLS All-Stars - Kaka (penalty, 20), Villa (23). Spurs - Kane (36).