MLS edges Liga MX on penalty kicks at MLS All-Star Game

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LOS ANGELES — The crescendo to a cardinal infinitesimal for North American shot lasted arsenic agelong arsenic it could Wednesday night, erstwhile Mexico’s Liga MX joined forces with Major League Soccer, the apical tier successful American and Canadian soccer, for the 25th MLS All-Star Game.

Tied 1-1 aft 90 minutes, the lucifer went to a punishment shootout and the MLS squad prevailed, 3-2, astatine LAFC’s Banc of California Stadium.

Coming disconnected stellar play for the United States during its CONCACAF Gold Cup triumph implicit Mexico, New England goalkeeper Matt Turner made 2 PK saves and earned the game’s Most Valuable Player grant by erstwhile again shutting down America’s confederate neighbors.

“It was conscionable enjoying myself retired there,” Turner said. “And I ever accidental unbend and bask the punishment footwear shootouts. Luckily I was capable to conjecture the close mode a mates times.”

Turner denied Rogelio Funes Mori with a footwear prevention connected a debased changeable up the middle, and stopped Salvador Reyes with a debased dive to his left. Sandwiched betwixt their misses, Erik Lira besides skied his effort implicit the crossbar.

“I went implicit to Matt and said it’s your clip to shine,” Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Andre Blake said. “He went retired determination and made immoderate large saves.”

Damir Kreilach and Daniel Salloi scored for MLS, offsetting misses by Eduard Atuesta and Nani, to springiness 18-year-old FC Dallas attacker Ricardo Pepi the accidental helium was looking for. Pepi sealed the triumph for MLS with a changeable that clanged disconnected the underside of the crossbar against Tigres UANL goalkeeper Nahuel Guzman.

“I was confident,” Pepi said. “I felt similar everything was acceptable up for maine to triumph the crippled for the team.”

The crowd-pleasing lucifer exceeded expectations and enactment the absorption wherever players and coaches hoped it would beryllium erstwhile they archetypal assembled successful idiosyncratic connected Monday.

Wedged into a important agelong of the MLS season, erstwhile qualifying for the playoffs is foremost connected players’ minds, the four-day All-Star extravaganza felt much similar an homage to American firm visibility than a showcase for the crippled itself.

Then it started.

The MLS starting lineup included six Seattle Sounders, the astir from 1 nine successful the event’s history. In that group, the Roldan brothers, Cristian and Alex, who starred astatine El Rancho High successful Pico Rivera and became the archetypal siblings to play unneurotic successful the MLS showcase.

A precocious alteration by MLS caput manager Bob Bradley enactment LAFC guardant Diego Rossi connected the tract astatine kickoff. The Uruguayan guardant precise astir enactment MLS up connected his location tract erstwhile helium chipped Club America goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa successful the eighth minute.

All-Star games aren’t needfully associated with defending, but Ochoa’s teammate with America, Jorge Sanchez, stretched retired to prevention the shot disconnected the extremity enactment successful the match’s archetypal thrilling moment.

Led by defending Liga MX champion manager Juan Reynoso from Cruz Azul, the visitors produced their stock of highlights and delighted partisans connected some sides.

However, play was halted 3 minutes aft Liga MX grabbed the pb erstwhile a ample radical of spectators audibly expressed the discriminatory and homophobic chant that has plagued Mexican soccer.

Referee Armando Villareal followed FIFA’s three-step protocol for discriminatory incidents and assembled the players successful the halfway of the field. Warnings were issued to the fans implicit the nationalist code strategy successful English and Spanish earlier play resumed soon thereafter.

In the 20th minute, Sanchez made himself a origin yet again erstwhile the defender drilled a bending transverse to Cruz Azul’s Jonathan Rodriguez.

The antheral liable for Liga MX’s triumph during Tuesday’s All-Star Skills Challenge chested the shot down and deed a skidding shot disconnected the patchy turf past Orlando SC goalkeeper Pedro Gallese.

Near the half-hour mark, some teams made aggregate substitutions, which continued passim the match, starring to a agelong of adjacent chances arsenic the opening fractional coiled down.

A mediocre walk astatine the backmost by Liga MX talented New England guardant Gustavo Bou a escaped accidental astatine Alfredo Talavera aft the Pumas goalkeeper replaced Ochoa, but the first-time MLS All-Star was betrayed by a mediocre touch.

The pursuing infinitesimal Liga MX was stymied by Blake, who had travel connected for Gallese.

The three-time All-Star snatched the shot disconnected the ft of Cruz Azul guardant Santiago Jimenez to support MLS wrong striking distance.

The competitory tone connected the tract pumped beingness into the sellout assemblage of 22,118.

“I deliberation some teams came with the thought that they wanted to play shot and marque it a bully crippled each around,” Bradley said.

Hosted by Bradley’s club, the North End of the stadium featured LAFC’s autarkic protagonist group, The 3252, whose passionateness was rewarded aboriginal successful the 2nd fractional erstwhile 2 of their ain combined to level the score.

A country footwear from Colombian midfielder Eduard Atuesta recovered his countryman, halfway backmost Jesus Murillo supra the Liga MX defense. Murillo hammered location the equalizer astatine the adjacent station successful the 53rd minute.

As enactment connected the tract intensified, Villareal issued 3 yellowish cards successful the last 20 minutes.

“It’s a hard-fought 2nd half,” Atlanta United FC defender Miles Robinson said. “I consciousness similar the guys enactment a batch into the game.”

BIG WEEK FOR PEPI

Pepi grew up straddling the ever-dwindling disagreement betwixt Mexican and American soccer. The Texas autochthonal who mostly watched Mexican teams arsenic a kid was a first-time All-Star for Dallas, and some nationalist teams person been chasing the 18-year-old prodigy’s commitment.

Pepi fundamentally confirmed Wednesday nighttime helium has decided to play with his chap Americans – and helium did it close aft striking the decisive stroke for his home league successful the growing, affable rivalry.

Pepi is expected to denote Thursday that helium has chosen to correspond the U.S. internationally erstwhile helium is selected for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers. His decisive extremity was a symbolic mode to extremity an entertaining, affable evening.

“To get called up to the nationalist squad and past get the triumph for MLS, it feels great,” Pepi said. “You guys tin spot the MLS is getting amended and much competitive.”

POPULAR FORMAT

The midseason showcase was the latest measurement successful the progressively adjacent ties betwixt the U.S./Canadian league and Mexico’s apical division, and it appeared to beryllium well-received by players and fans alike.

“I deliberation (this All-Star format) would beryllium large for some leagues,” Turner said. “You saw the contention was truly spirited and precocious intensity. The fans were into it. It should beryllium the norm, but it’s not my call. I had a ton of amusive this week. People truly wanted to win, and we don’t ever get that successful All-Star games here.”

MLS and Liga MX already clasp a brace of squad cupful competitions with hopes for adjacent much interleague play, and some leagues hold a afloat merger is simply a existent anticipation successful the coming years.

“Winning a lucifer against the champion players successful Mexico feels truthful good,” said MLS skipper Raúl Ruidíaz, a Peruvian seasoned of some leagues. “It proves our league is growing. We enjoyed this a lot.”

These All-Star teams’ demographics bespeak some leagues’ maturation and planetary appeal. The MLS All-Stars were calved successful 13 antithetic countries, portion lone 12 of Liga MX’s 27 All-Stars were calved successful Mexico.

“It’s astonishing to beryllium present with each these large players,” said Guillermo Ochoa, the seasoned Club América goalkeeper who played portion of the archetypal half. “It’s large for the fans due to the fact that they tin spot these players live. I would emotion to beryllium present again adjacent year.”

MLS was erstwhile good down Liga MX successful prime of play, but players from some leagues hold the spread has closed importantly successful the past fewer years. These teams appeared to beryllium evenly matched.

“The happening I learned retired determination is we are up determination with Liga MX,” Blake said.

The festivities were dampened earlier this week erstwhile MLS’ 2 biggest Mexican stars – the Galaxy’s Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and LAFC’s Carlos Vela – some dropped retired with injuries. Inter Miami’s Rodolfo Pizarro was the lone Mexican-born subordinate connected the MLS roster, which had a fistful of Liga MX veterans.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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