Chester, PA – In a rematch of the 2006 edition, Major League Soccer's best will square off against English Premier League side Chelsea FC in the 2012 MLS All-Star Game at PPL Park on Wednesday.
The MLS All-Stars narrowly escaped that match with a win thanks to a 70th minute strike from Dwayne De Rosario.
Things will come full circle six years later as the Canadian will captain the league's best against the English giants.
"The captain is Dwayne De Rosario," said All-Star head coach Ben Olsen. "He's been to quite a few of these. I could have picked a whole bunch of guys, there are a lot of good leaders around here."
The D.C. United boss was not exaggerating.
David Beckham (Los Angeles Galaxy) and Thierry Henry (Red Bull New York) have competed against the likes of Chelsea for many years during their glittered stints in England's top flight with Manchester United and Arsenal, respectively. They have grown quite familiar with Chelsea heavyweights like Frank Lampard, John Terry and Michael Essien.
The foreign star power is well balanced with established American veterans who boast World Cup experience like Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy) and Jay DeMerit (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), but also with budding MLS players like Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes) and Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City).
Donovan also noticed that there seems to be a great balance on both sides of the ball, lending praise to the likes of Aurelien Collin (Sporting Kansas City), Steven Beitashour (San Jose Earthquakes) and Justin Morrow (San Jose Earthquakes) who were selected to represent the league based on their defensive merit. The Galaxy star believes that it should help the All-Stars avenge 5-2 and 4-0 defeats to Manchester United in the last two summer showcases.
"I think Ben did a good job of - you know, a lot of times you just get a lot of offensive players, even defenders that are more attacking-minded defenders," Donovan said of Olsen's team selection. "Ben's done a good job of putting together a real team, so I think we're going to have a much better chance."
Chelsea, reigning European champions and FA Cup winners, will be out with plenty to prove as well.
Taking over as manager for Andre Villas-Boas on an interim basis in the middle of last season, Roberto Di Matteo was awarded the full-time job this summer after guiding Chelsea to Champions League glory. He will be out to reward owner Roman Abramovich's faith in the young manager by getting his club off to a favorable start in league play come August. That road begins with a solid preseason foundation.
The Blues have bolstered their roster this summer with the additions of Eden Hazard, Marko Marin and Kevin De Bruyne, and they will see the match against the MLS All-Stars as an opportunity to make a lasting impression on the new manager.
Wednesday's All-Star Game is the third friendly match of four in Chelsea's preseason tour of America. The Blues defeated Seattle Sounders FC 4-2 on July 18 before playing to a 1-1 draw with French side PSG on Sunday. The English giants will conclude their stint in the United States with a trip to SunLife Stadium to face AC Milan on Saturday.