Photo by Melissa Tamez
The Chicago Fire’s Dax McCarty (left) and Orlando City’s Dom Dwyer celebrate Dwyer’s late goal to knot up the MLS All-Star game Aug. 2 at Soldier Field.
The last ball has been booted.
The Ronaldo-less Real Madrid has gone back home.
The last note from the X Ambassadors rang into the Chicago air a long time ago.
The Men in Blazers are gone.
The ponchos have dried out.
The laughter from some clown near the Soldier Field press box who sounded like the Joker, has finally died down.
The five-day soccer orgy surrounding the Major League Soccer All-Star festivities ended Aug. 2 and here are a few thoughts about SoccerPalooza in its wake…
Soggy start, exciting end
For a while, the All-Star game just didn’t seem fun.
Spending hundreds of dollars on tickets coupled with 49 bones for parking to watch an exhibition – or friendly -- between a team that practiced only three days (the MLS All-Stars) against a Real Madrid team that didn’t play many of its starters doesn’t sound like a lot of fun, to me – especially with a downpour for portions of the scoreless first half.
But soccer fans didn’t care about all of that. They are passionate and want to scream and have fun and they did that.
Then they had some real action to shred their lungs over in the second half when Madrid’s Borja Mayoral scored in the 59th minute and the MSL’s Dominic Dwyer knotted it up in the 87th minute.
That set up a shootout, which Madrid won, 4-2.
So many fans went home soggy, poorer and happy.
Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, the biggest sports star on the planet, was taking a vacation so he wasn’t in Chicago for this exhibition. Heck, even Liam Gallagher spent three songs in Chicago.
Ronaldo is very rich but had allegedly committed tax fraud to the tune of $14.7 million. He is said to make $93 million a year.
But he can still take a vacation, God bless him.
The name game
The vacationing star, who is known simply as Ronaldo, was not in Chicago but the Real Madrid roster was filled with one-word-name footballers.
There was Nacho. There was Marcelo. There was Casemiro. Don’t forget Isco. Or Franchu. Or Luca. Or Oscar.
The lone one-word name MSL All-Star was Kaka.
Thoughts from Dax
Fire midfielder Dax McCarty played in the game and didn’t sugarcoat the quality of the MLS nor did he put it down.
“That’s a tricky question because we realize Real Madrid is in preseason and we realize a lot of their so-called first team didn’t play,” he said. “I think MLS clearly is getting better every single season, no question about it. I think the main point of the game was to try to have fun and to try to enjoy it.
“Real Madrid is probably one of the best teams in the world and the fact that it was 1-1 – I think that says a lot. It was an entertaining game back and forth but it was an exhibition game. It’s a friendly so I don’t think it’s really fair to judge how good or bad MLS is based on this game.’’
It’s been a good year for the Chicago Fire, so it seemed natural that the team’s Djordje Mihailovic would score the first goal in the opening minutes of the Homegrown Game as the MLS Homegrown players tied CD Guadalajara U-20 2-2 at Toyota Park on Aug. 1.
A pretty small bone
Because the All-Star game was played at Soldier Field instead of Bridgeview’s Toyota Park even though the Fire was the host team, MLS threw Toyota Park a bone by letting the local stadium host the Homegrown Game.
It was not a big bone.
Unfortunately, many soccer fans stayed home for the Homegrown. There was no announced crowd and we had to guess how many people were there. My guess was that it would have been great for a Red Stars game but lousy for a Fire game – somewhere between 6,000-7,000 fans.
The west parking lot wasn’t even opened
But those fans were entertained. After Mihailovic’s first-minute goal, the MLS scored in thrilling fashion as Colorado defender Kortne Ford scored in the closing minutes.