Wednesday, July 27, 2011

All-Star Game Day at RBA (and Other Red Bulls Notes)

Good morning. Arguably the most high profile event in Red Bull Arena's short history, the 2011 MLS All-Star Game, kicks off tonight at 8:30PM ET on ESPN2 and Galavision. For those who are interested, you can find all of the information you need on lineups and player availability here. Hans Backe assumes the coaching duties for the MLS All-Stars, while Tim Ream and Thierry Henry are likely to be in the starting XI. Manchester United will probably be without their young superstar Mexican striker Chicharito, who just recently returned from international duty.

Thierry Henry and David Beckham have been out in force around the city, pimping this game on places such as Good Morning America. The Red Devils, meanwhile, held an open training session last night at Red Bull Arena, which interested RBNY season ticket holders were invited to attend. Judging by the comments on our Facebook page, reviews were mixed at best. There have been a number of other All-Star related events in the area over the course of the week, including festivities at the All-Star Game Hub on Mercer Street in Manhattan, parties at the Football Factory and a "Legends" game at the famous Harrison Courts. Our man Dan Dickinson attended the latter and had a glowing report on Shep Messing, who reportedly made a number of stellar saves, without gloves.

For some, the All-Star Game is an exciting mid-year spectacle and a chance for the league's top players to test themselves against the world's biggest club teams. For others (including yours truly) it's a waste of time in the middle of an already busy summer. Many RBNY season ticket holders sold their tickets well in advance of the match, so expect the crowd to be mostly pro-Manchester United.

After the Red Bulls wrap up festivities this evening, they board a plane just a few hours later to London, where they will take on Paris Saint-Germain and Arsenal in the annual Emirates Cup tournament this weekend. With back-to-back Saturday/Sunday matches scheduled, Hans Backe has selected a traveling roster of 21 players, including several youngsters. Mehdi Ballouchy, whose visa situation would make a good subject for Leonard Nimoy, will not be among those making the trip, nor will the still-injured Carl Robinson and Luke Rodgers. Saturday's match vs. PSG, which kicks off at 9AM ET, will be shown live on MSG Plus and ESPN Deportes, as well as online on ESPN3. Sunday's showdown with Arsenal - an 11:20AM ET kickoff - will be broadcast nationally on Fox Soccer Channel and Fox Sports en Español.

That's all for now. We hope to have some video and photos from the All-Star Game for you later in the week.
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