Hometown pride on display in MLS All-Star Game win over Mexico’s Liga MX
Carlos Vela scores the opening goal in the third minute of the game.
St. Paul, Minnesota was the epicenter of North American soccer on Wednesday with the MLS All-Star Game against Mexico’s Liga MX at Allianz Field.
While the announced crowd of 19,797 had an estimated 40 percent as first-time visitors for a 2-1 MLS win, there remained a clear hometown bias.
When Loons talisman Emanuel Reynoso was announced as an MLS starter, he received the loudest cheer among the well-known 11. On a squad with a ton of attacking, Reynoso got the honor of set-piece taker and provided quality into the box om his initial deliveries.
On a recycled corner, Reynoso dribbled past Mexico's Tigres’ Luis Quinones in the 11th minute, and the fans oohed.
Then Minnesota goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair, who subbed in the 32th minute, made a diving save off Pumas’ Juan Dinenno’s header, and the supporters sections behind the south goal had his back.
“DSC! DSC! DSC!” they chanted.
Then St. Clair got to respond on ESPN: “The fans, I get to see them every week, they’re great. No surprise that it’s another sold out crowd. They show up and they show out every time.”
The MLS starting lineup had three Mexican or Mexican-American players, while Liga MX put out only one at the beginning. One of those MLS’ three, Carlos Vela, scored the opening goal in the third minute. Raul Ruidiaz converted a penalty in the 73rd minute.
Vela and Ruidiaz were candidates to win the MVP award, but that, too, had a hometown flavor with St. Clair raising the glass silverware trophy.
St. Clair, who is off to the FIFA World Cup with Canada this fall, helped keep Liga MX off the field in his 30 minute shift. Starter Andre Blake did the same in the opening 30 minutes, but Sean Johnson could do little as Kevin Alvarez scored a stunner in the 85th minute.
It was MLS’ second consecutive win against Liga MX. In their first All-Star match-up last August, MLS beat Liga MX in penalty kicks in Los Angeles.
With all clubs on both sides of the border entering in the Leagues Cup next season, commissioner Don Garber said there might not be a trifecta. “I’m not sure we need that (MLS vs. Liga MX) for an All-Star game,” MLS Commission Don Garber said at halftime on ESPN.
MNUFC owner Bill McGuire is in the 10th anniversary of owning the team, which started in the lower-level NASL and entered MLS in 2017, then opened the $250 million stadium in 2019. The All-Star Game he wanted to bring to Minnesota.
“I’m so pleased for everybody connected with our club because it shows how far we’ve come in the last six years,” Loons/MLS head coach Adrian Heath said on ESPN.
New Loons attacker Mender Garcia has yet to arrive in Minnesota. The Colombian has been advancing with the required immigration steps in his native country, but his availability for Sunday at Nashville is in doubt. … New midfielder Jonathan Gonzalez has been training with the Loons in Blaine this week. He arrived from Queretaro City, Mexico on Friday. … Carlos Leatherman started and played 45 minutes in the MLS NEXT Pro All-Star Game at the National Sports Center in Blaine on Wednesday. The 17-year-old St. Paul native had a flashy step-over dribble into the box during his shift. The Loons’ academy product will enter his senior year at St. Paul Central High School this fall and currently has plans to attend St. Louis University in 2023 — unless the Loons keep him in their system. MNUFC would hold his rights when he goes to college. … MNUFC2 goalkeeper Alec Smir got a surprise invitation to join the reboot of the quirky goalie wars competition, which was reintroduced as part of the MLS Skills Competition on Tuesday. The 6-foot-2 Greensboro, N.C. native won the competition. He landed in Minnesota after being taken by FC Dallas in the third-round of the 2022 MLS draft. At the University of North Carolina, Smir had 10 shutouts in 20 games and was named first team All-Atlantic Coast Conference.
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