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Stars collide in World Soccer Masters

Lionel Messi
Barcelona forward Lionel Messi will look to shine on American soil on Saturday, June 23.
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Ives Galarcep

Ives Galarcep is a 14-year veteran of the American soccer beat. He created and operates the popular American soccer blog, Soccer By Ives, which was voted Best American Soccer Blog by US Soccer in 2008, 2009, and 2010. Ives was also voted Best Football Writer by SoccerLens in 2010. 
 

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While the European Championship continues in Ukraine-Poland featuring some of the best talent in the world, a collection of stars just as impressive will converge in Miami for an exhibition the likes have never seen before in the United States.

Led by Lionel Messi, the best player in the world, many of the biggest stars from the Americas and Africa will take part in the World Soccer Masters, an exhibition match being played at Sun Life Stadium on June 23 (7pm, EST live on FOX Soccer).

The star-studded event will mark Messi’s second match on American soil this month, and if his first one is any indication, fans in South Florida won’t want to miss it. Messi burned Brazil for a hat trick in Argentina’s 4-3 exhibition victory against Brazil at Met Life Stadium in New Jersey on June 9.

As unbelievable as it sounds, we should see even more goals on June 23, as the organizers of the match have compiled a who’s-who of talent, something for fans of all backgrounds.

Messi’s team, known as Dunga’s Masters, will be coached by Brazilian legend Dunga and will feature, among others, African star and recent UEFA Champions League hero Didier Drogba, Napoli tandem of Ezequiel Lavezzi and Marek Hamsik, as well as Argentines Diego Milito and Javier Mascherano.

Messi’s opponent, Capello’s Stars, will have managed by former England boss Fabio Capello and will feature the South American strike force of Luis Suarez, Falcao, Diego Forlan and Edinson Cavani, with the American trio of Clint Dempsey, Carlos Bocanegra and Florida-bred Jozy Altidore also on Capello’s squad.

The US national team trio are coming off World Cup qualifying which kicked off last week with a win against Antigua & Barbuda and a draw against Guatemala. Altidore suffered an ankle injury vs. Guatemala and his status for the World Soccer Masters is uncertain.

June 23 isn’t going to be a fun day for goalkeepers, with Mexican star Guillermo Ochoa, Brazilian netminder Julio Cesar and Barcelona goalkeeper Jose Pinto set to man the nets. They will have some world-class defenders trying to stop the star-studded list of attackers, with Marco Materazzi, Lucio and Fabio Cannavaro manning the backline for Capello’s side, and Dani Alves and Alessandro Nesta headlining the defense for Messi’s squad.

Lionel Messi will lead an all-star cast at Sun Life Stadium on Saturday June 23. Click here for ticket information.  

Ochoa isn’t the only Mexican standout to compete. Long-time Mexican national team midfielder Gerardo Torrado will also take part.

The match will be the first chance fans will have to see Drogba in action since he helped lead Chelsea to the UEFA Champions League title. The star of the other major European club competition will also be in attendance as Falcao takes the stage looking to duplicate the heroics he pulled off in helping lead Atletico Madrid to the Europa League title.

For all the star power on the docket, the headliner will still be Messi, who is coming off a season that saw him set a new world record for goals in a season, with an astronomical 72. The fans at Sun Life Stadium on Saturday will be hoping he can deliver a few more.

Ives Galarcep is a senior writer for FOXSoccer.com covering Major League Soccer and the US National Team.

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