The United States Major League Soccer (MLS) All-Star team defeated Liga MX 2-1 on August 10 in Minnesota, but there was plenty of action before kickoff even happened. On August 9, the best players from the U.S. and Mexico faced off in a series of five skill challenges designed to test passing, shooting, and accuracy.
FC Dallas forward Jesus Ferreira helped Team USA win the crossbar challenge. The goal of the challenge was to kick a soccer ball to hit the top crossbar, which had been swapped out from the standard issue goal post to a neon green bar meant to resemble a safety strip on a shaving razor designed by the event sponsor, Gillette Labs.
The challenge was broken into two segments. In the first, players would hit the crossbar from 18-yards. Once three players had successfully hit the bar, players then took shots from 40 yards. The first player to hit the crossbar from the second zone would win the event for his side.
Ferreira was the first player to hit the crossbar from the 18-yard mark and accomplished the kick on his first attempt. MLS would go on to record two more hits to move to the second stage.
Ultimately, Nashville SC forward Hany Mukhtar scored the winning kick to give MLS the victory in the challenge. MLS and Liga MX split the four events evenly, with the Americans taking the shooting and touch challenges, while the players from Liga MX won the passing and cross & volley challenges. The crossbar challenge was the deciding event for the night.
The main event was the All-Star game the following day, and MLS came out swinging for the win. The first score was on a cross pass that Los Angeles FC’s Carlos Vela found with his head to go up 1-0 barely over two minutes into regulation.
MLS had a chance to go up by two scores at the 53-minute mark, but the flags went up to signal offsides against MLS before the shot went in. FC Cincinnati’s Brandon Vazquez sent an inside cross that was picked by FC Dallas’ Paul Arriola, but Vazquez had gotten behind the line prior to the pass. It was the closest that FC Dallas players came to making significant contributions.
They got another opportunity after a questionable penalty call against Liga MX that set up a penalty shot.
Seattle Sounders FC player Raul Ruidiaz took the shot and faked left before going right to take the point and increase the MLS lead to two goals.
Liga MX would get a score at the 84-minute mark on a deep shot from Pachuca Liga MX midfielder Kevin Alvarez that defeated New York City FC goalkeeper Sean Johnson. The single goal would not be enough, and the score would be the last chance for Liga MX to avoid losing back-to-back All-Star competitions.
FC Dallas players Paul Arriola and Ferreira made the team this season but did not have significant play time as neither were starters. Starting players were limited by new rules that only allowed 45 minutes of playtime. Arriola was on-field briefly between the 30-minute and 50-minute marks.
With the festivities concluded, Arriola and Ferreira will return to North Texas, where the team will take on the San Jose Earthquakes F.C. on August 13. The team is still in contention for the playoffs and is currently at number four in the Pacific Conference.