Real Madrid beat MLS All-Stars 4-2 on penalties

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Marcelo scored on the decisive penalty kick as La Liga and Champions League title holders Real Madrid took a shootout victory Wednesday over the Major League Soccer All-Stars.

Real Madrid played to a 1-1 draw in regulation time in the MLS All-Star Game before taking the shootout 4-2 before a sellout crowd of 61,000 at Soldier Field, the home stadium of the NFL’s Chicago Bears.

Borja Mayoral opened the scoring in the 59th minute for Real Madrid, which controlled possession of the ball throughout the contest.

Mayoral found open space in front of the goal before taking a short pass. His well-timed shot deflected off the leg of a diving defender and into the back of the net for the Spanish giants, who were playing without superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.

Dom Dwyer, an England-born member of the US national team, equalized for the MLS squad in the 87th minute with a header from in close.

Dwyer was in the right place for the rebound after Dax McCarty’s header off a corner kick bounced off the post, winning a foot race with Real Madrid’s 19-year-old goalkeeper Luca Zidane, who entered late in the second half.

“It was important to go back with a win but now we are looking forward to the UEFA Super Cup,” said Mayoral, who was named player of the match.

Real Madrid will now return to Europe to meet Manchester United in the UEFA Super Cup in Macedonia on August 8, then take on Barcelona in the two-legged Spanish Super Cup on August 13 and 16 before opening the La Liga season on August 20.

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane rotated his squad liberally during the contest. The stars made their appearances but he also inserted several youngsters and fringe players who are trying to make the club.

At times when the stars were on the field it was a humbling affair for the MLS. Left back Greg Garza had to leave the game in the first half with a possible separated shoulder that will cost him some time with Atlanta United.

“What an amazing experience! It was an honor to share the field with such great players!” tweeted MLS forward David Villa.

The All-Star match marks the end of a four-match, 11-day pre-season US tour for Real Madrid that included a 3-2 loss to rival Barcelona in a Clasico matchup at Miami on Sunday.

Real Madrid also drew Manchester United before falling in penalties to the English side in San Francisco on July 23 and lost to Manchester City in Los Angeles on July 26.

Real Madrid has captured back-to-back Champions League titles and a record 33 La Liga championships.

Ronaldo, the reigning FIFA player of the year and the world’s highest-paid athlete at a reported $93 million per year, was ordered before a Spanish court on Monday to answer to tax fraud charges. Ronaldo denies the allegations.

Provided by AFP

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Cristiano Ronaldo keeps up his fitness levels ahead of return to Real Madrid training

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Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo kept up his fitness level in the gym ahead of his return to Real Madrid training next week.

The 32-year-old was granted an extended break after playing in the Confederations Cup for Portugal in June.

But as the four-time Ballon d’Or winner’s latest Instagram posts show, his motivation is as high as ever as he tested his agility and flexibility on a leg board ahead of the new season.

Real Madrid are still on their pre-season tour of United States and are expected to play Manchester United in the UEFA Super Cup on August 8.

Ronaldo is unlikely to play against his former club but could feature in the Spanish Super Cup encounter against Barcelona on August 14.

🏃🏼👌

A post shared by Cristiano Ronaldo (@cristiano) on

Hard work and dedication. 🏃🏼💦🇵🇹

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Real Madrid expected to give MLS stars intense match

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Veteran goalkeeper Tim Howard says top North American club players should expect “cut-throat” competition from Spanish giants Real Madrid in Wednesday’s Major League Soccer All-Star Game.

The All-Star match at Soldier Field, home of the NFL’s Chicago Bears, marks the end of a four-match, 11-day pre-season US tour for Real Madrid that included a 3-2 loss to rival Barcelona in a Clasico matchup at Miami.

But Howard expects Real Madrid to bring their best as they prepare for the upcoming La Liga campaign.

“When you get to play for a team like Real Madrid, there’s no days off,” Howard said. “There are no easy games. They have a world-class coach that they are trying to impress.

“They have got to play well to earn a spot coming up for the La Liga season. World football is intense and it’s cut-throat. There aren’t any days when guys just take it easy.

“When you put your jersey on and cross the line — whether it’s a tournament, a regular-season game, a pre-season game, an All-Star Game — these guys are going to be up for it.”

Colorado Rapids goalkeeper Howard will start in goal for Chicago Fire coach Veljiko Paunovic in the mid-season exhibition.

In 2001, Howard represented the East in a conference versus conference All-Star Game and in the following year he was part of an MLS All-Star squad that took on US national team.

He played against the MLS All-Stars when he returned with English Premiership side Everton in 2009 in the current format that pits the All-Stars against top-flight European competition.

“I’m not sure which one’s better,” he said of the various permutations of the All-Star Game he has experienced.

“But it will be certainly exciting to play Real Madrid — there’s no question about that.”

The All-Stars feature plenty of heavyweights with marquee match experience, including World Cup winners Bastian Schweinsteiger, David Villa and Kaka.

“It’s an honor to play for the MLS All-Star team, especially here in Chicago,” said the Fire’s German import

Schweinsteiger, who launched his MLS career this season and will captain the All-Stars by popular vote.

“We will look to have a good game, to be competitive against Real Madrid and if we can win, we will go for the match,” Schweinsteiger told the Chicago Tribune.

“We know that it is a very strong team and that we are playing together for the first time. It is not going to be easy at all, but we will try and have a good game and enjoy it a little.”

Orlando City’s Brazilian star Kaka, who helped Real Madrid to the 2011-12 La Liga title, said facing his former team will be “a very emotional experience.”

“I do not know how the game will go, but we have a great team to play a very even game with Real Madrid,” he said.

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