Tottenham Hotspur expect tough test from MLS All-Stars
Tottenham launch their final preparations for the fast-approaching Premier League season on Wednesday when they take on a Major League Soccer All-Stars side featuring former Spurs striker Robbie Keane in the US league`s mid-season exhibition.
"It`s going to be a tough game and that`s what we want," 21-year-old striker Harry Kane said Monday in Denver, where he and his team-mates have been training since the weekend.
"It`s not long until the season starts, and we need to see what we need to work on," Kane said. "For me, it`ll be my first game of the pre-season, so I`m looking forward to it."
Keane, a three-time MLS champion with the Los Angeles Galaxy, has received his third All-Star nod, but had to miss the 2013 and 2014 editions because of injury.
The Republic of Ireland great is especially eager to get his chance against the club he starred for in two spells between 2002 and 2011.
"The All Star game is a big occasion for the league and something you see over here in basketball, baseball and NFL," Keane told tottenhamhotspur.com. "Every player in the MLS wants to be involved in this game.
"This is a special one for me because it`s against Tottenham, my club, the club where I felt I made my name and had a big impact ... this is a big deal for me."
Spanish forward David Villa of New York City FC, Brazilian Kaka of Orlando and former Liverpool star Steven Gerrard -- the Galaxy`s latest high profile acquisition -- will all be available to MLS All-Star coach Pablo Mastroeni.
Gerrard was selected for the team along with Frank Lampard as one of two commissioner`s picks by MLS chief Don Garber -- before either had kicked a ball in league competition.
Gerrard has since made a solid debut for the Galaxy, while Lampard`s debut for NYCFC is on hold because of a nagging calf injury that will also see him miss Wednesday`s contest.
Another former Tottenham player, American Clint Dempsey, will be available for the hosts, the Seattle Sounders having just won top-scorer honors in the Gold Cup despite the United States` disappointing fourth-placed finish in the North American regional tournament.
Kyle Walker said he and his fellow Tottenham defenders will have to be on their toes against the talent-laden MLS side.
"We`ll have to be on our game," he said. "It will be a good test for us and it`s one I`m definitely looking forward to."
Whatever the outcome, Tottenham coach Mauricio Pochettino said there would be no repeat of the post-game incivility shown last year by Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola in refusing to shake hands with his counterpart Caleb Porter after the All-Stars` 2-1 triumph.
Guardiola was displeased with the physicality of the contest, particularly a rough tackle on Bastian Schweinsteiger.
"We expect a very tough game," Pochettino said. "But I would never not shake hands with the opposing coach."