The best of the MLS take the pitch Wednesday night against one of Europe’s elite clubs in the 2018 MLS All-Star Game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. A crowd of more than 70,000 is expected to watch MLS All-Stars take on Italian Serie A powerhouse Juventus (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).
Much to American fans’ disappointment, ESPN’s most famous athlete, Cristiano Ronaldo, who signed on with Juventus last month, won’t make his debut for the club in Atlanta. He opted to first suit up in a game that counts, the Serie A season opener Aug. 18.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the 36-year-old Swede who’s become one of MLS’s marquee players, will also miss the match. He opted to skip the exhibition to rest.
Among the fan favorites who will be in action is goalkeeper Brad Guzan, who stars for the hometown team, Atlanta United. He’s also a U.S. national team goalie who played 10 seasons abroad in England. He’s seen soccer at the highest levels all over the world, and is excited for what Atlanta has to offer.
— brad guzan (@bguzan) June 27, 2018
“It’s not fabricated, it’s not scripted, it’s genuine fans that are wanting to be a part of this club and to be a part of the soccer scene here in Atlanta,” Guzan said on a conference call last month. “To compare this with other clubs that I’ve had the fortune to play for and represent, this is up there.
“And not only the clubs that I’ve been able to represent, but I think you hear other clubs around the world that have made the trip to Atlanta to see what we’ve done in terms of the attendance, in terms of the fan experience – there’s clubs around the world that would die to have what we have here. That’s really down to our fan support.”
The 33-year-old goalie has led Atlanta, in only its second season of existence, to the top of the MLS standings at 14-4-5. Guzan says Jesus has helped him get to where he is in his career.
“My personal life, my faith life and my sport life – they all come together,” Guzan told Athletes in Action. “I think they have to. You don’t have one without the others, and you have to have Jesus in your life. That is how I get through my personal life, how I get through my professional life – following Christ. He helps me through the tough times. It hasn’t always been a rosy road to success, and there are always going to be bumps along the way. Jesus helped me through all of those struggles.”
Guzan and Atlanta United will continue their quest for the MLS Cup on Saturday against Toronto FC, the defending MLS champion. Atlanta and Toronto will meet again for their season finale Oct. 28.
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