Exploria Stadium, Orlando, FL – João Félix showed his next-level talent in the 85th minute, unleashing a 30-yard golazo. The ball knuckled left-to-right and arced past Nick Rimando’s fingertips into the net.
That goal effectively sealed Atlético’s win at 2-0. Fans applauded a world-class goal from a rising superstar. Shortly after, in the 90th minute, a Diego Costa goal assisted by João Félix put an emphatic stamp on the win.
Ending a week of festivities in Orlando, the MLS All-Star Game kicked off Wednesday night before a sellout crowd of 25,527. Thunderstorms delayed kickoff of the anticipated match between MLS All Stars and Atlético de Madrid, but the rain did not curtail the emotion in the stadium.
The event began with an enthusiastic on-field #MLSALLSTAR display. The rhythm of pregame fireworks transitioned to the drums of the supporters’ section. Cheers for both teams spread across the ground from the start.
Atlético started a largely second-choice eleven but showed good chemistry from the offset. With little training time together, the MLS side played based more on individual skill. But in the 26th minute, good combination-play from the MLS All Stars led to a Wayne Rooney laser from thirty-five yards out flying just over the crossbar.
Atlético Madrid’s Marcos Llorente scored in the closing minutes of the first half. Llorente played a one-two with Rodrigo Riquelme who back-heeled the return for Llorente to cleanly slot past Andre Blake for the game’s first goal.
The MLS All Stars played aggressively during the second half and had multiple shot attempts saved or off-target. Atlético Madrid manager Diego Simeone commented “in the second half you saw a dynamic MLS team that could have hurt us.”
In the 56th minute, Atlético substituted its entire eleven at once, bringing on a first-choice lineup. Even so, two late free kicks for the MLS All Stars near the 80th minute came tantalizingly close to evening the score, but both missed.
In the end the two late goals ensured Atlético’s win. For the final display, João Félix played a long cross to Diego Costa sprinting down the left side of the 18-yard-box. Costa played the ball off his chest while holding off a sliding Bastian Schweinsteiger, then slid the ball past Nick Rimando’s near post. If Felix’s goal hadn’t sealed the game, his assist for Costa’s goal did.
MLS All-Star coach James O’Connor summed up the week of festivities nicely—”I think it’s a wonderful experience for, not just the players, but for the supporters and for everyone.”