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The 18th MLS All-Star Game, to be held on July 31 between a collection of MLS’s finest and Italian Serie A side AS Roma, continues MLS’s tradition of pitting its stars against a top squad from abroad. Overall, MLS has fared well, going 6-2-1 in the previous nine games against international clubs and defeating Chelsea 3-2 last year. Can they keep the All-Star momentum going against the three-time Italian league champions? Take a look below at what five of each team’s best players bring to the table, and tune into the game Wednesday, July 31 at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
Thierry Henry (pictured) – The French ex-Arsenal legend is either a petulant brat or classy gent, depending on who you ask. One thing that’s not up for debate, though: even at age 35, he swaggers and toys with defenders like nobody else on the All-Star roster.
Graham Zusi – The home crowd will cheer louder for this Sporting KC midfielder than anyone else. Not only has he carved out a spot on the U.S. national team, he’s the guy most likely to create a goal for the All-Stars with his savory crosses – he posted an MLS-high 15 assists last season.
Mike Magee – He’s sometimes called Mr. November for his playoff heroics (see here, for example), but the forward’s done just fine for himself this summer since joining the Chicago Fire, posting five goals in his first seven games with the club and winning MLS Player of the Month honors in June. Can he come through on a big stage yet again?
Aurélien Collin – This eccentric, eclectic Frenchman dabbles in fashion off the field and hurls his body around like a madman on it. But despite everything he does on the pitch, we mostly love Collin for Collin’s Corner.
Raúl Fernández – Nicknamed “Superman” by his Peruvian countrymen because, well, dude can fly, the FC Dallas goalkeeper is driven to make his family proud. Speaking of his Peruvian countrymen, Fernández is Peru’s national goalkeeper – his play will be crucial to whether or not Peru can qualify for its first World Cup in three decades.
Francesco Totti (pictured) – Sure, he’s 36, but the magic of Roma’s captain and all-time leading scorer persists (12 goals and 12 assists last season)… as does the devotion of his many followers. Win Italian Footballer of the Year honors five times and everyone wants a piece of you.
Michael Bradley – He gives Roma an MLS flavor – he began his pro career with the then-New York/New Jersey MetroStars in 2004, who were coached at the time by his father, Bob. And later, of course, Bob coached Michael on the U.S. national team – a team on which Michael Bradley now might just be the best player, or at least the most indispensable. Safe to say, nobody’s crying nepotism about Michael Bradley these days.
Erik Lamela – This 21-year-old Argentine attacker’s ball control at speed is pretty much unfair. He can finish, too – his 15 goals last season were good for second on the team, perhaps none better than this bit of sorcery. If it weren’t for rumors like this, we’d call Lamela the future of A.S. Roma.
Dodô – Based on his name, you might think this defender would be extinct, but no: Brazilians do ironic mononyms even better than they win World Cups. This Dodô, at just 21 years old, is just getting started: maybe he’ll even help Brazil win one of those World Cups himself one day.
Photos via Getty