Harry Kane on target with stunning strike but Spurs are beaten by MLS All-Stars
Harry Kane was back amongst the goals with a fine first-half strike in Tottenham’s first public pre-season match, but Tottenham were beaten 2-1 by the MLS All-Stars in Denver, Colorado.
While the hosts had been weakened by the withdrawals of Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Robbie Keane and Michael Bradley, they still boasted a front three of David Villa, ex-Spurs man Clint Dempsey and Kaka – and Kaka and Villa fired them into a 2-0 lead with two goals in the space of four minutes.
Kane looked set for a frustrating outing after being denied by goalkeeper Nick Rimando on three occasions in the first period, but he then struck in style, picking up the ball just inside the All-Stars’ half before advancing and finding the top corner from 25 yards to halve the deficit before the break.
There were widespread changes on both sides after the interval and Spurs dominated with an increasingly young team including goalkeeper Luke McGee, Dele Alli, Harry Winks, Josh Onomah and USA international DeAndre Yedlin – but there were no further goals.
Ultimately, Pochettino will reflect on an increasingly positive performance after the initial setback of going two goals down.
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Despite the defeat, the head coach can be pleased with the impact of the club’s new signings and the confidence of their young talents in a game Tottenham were a little unlucky to lose.
Recent recruit Toby Alderweireld was named in the starting line-up in what is likely to become a familiar centre-back partnership with his countryman Jan Vertonghen – who captained the side - while Eric Dier was deployed in central midfield alongside Nabil Bentaleb.
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Kane – the only senior striker in the USA – predictably started up front, with Mousa Dembele and Nacer Chadli completing Spurs’ Belgian quartet in the attacking midfield spots next to Christian Eriksen.
Hugo Lloris and Erik Lamela were both omitted from the matchday squad. The goalkeeper continued his recovery from a fractured wrist, with Michel Vorm getting the nod between the sticks, while Lamela only joined his team-mates at the start of the week, having been given an extended holiday after Argentina’s participation in the Copa America.
Spurs endured a nervy start in the opening moments as Vertonghen failed to deal with a ball than bounced between him and Vorm, scuffing the ball to the edge of the box and giving Graham Zusi the chance to fire across goal. Dempsey then tried a chip which drifted past the far post.
But Tottenham quickly grew into the game, with Dembele providing most of their creativity while drifting infield from the right flank. His deflected effort looped behind the MLS back line to Kane, whose shot from 10 yards was well saved by Rimando.
Dembele drifted from right to left again and freed the onrushing Ben Davies, who squared to give Kane a tap-in – but the defence-splitting pass to the left-back was fractionally delayed and the offside flag went up.
The linesman intervened again soon after as Eriksen chipped the ball behind the defence to free the lively Kane, who was a whisker away from being level with the last man.
However, Spurs suddenly found themselves 1-0 down in the 19th minute as Chadli clumsily met an outswinging corner with an outstretched arm, and Kaka dispatched the penalty accurately into the bottom left corner.
Spurs nearly equalised as Dembele beat a challenge and found Chadli, who crossed for Kane – but the 22-year-old was denied by a superb stop from Rimando on the goalline.
Instead, the All-Stars went straight up the other end and doubled their lead as Kaka drove the ball into the danger zone from the right side of the box and Villa finished from six yards.
That gave the hosts a spring in their step and they enjoyed a spell of quick, crisp passing, while Dier was booked for a late sliding challenge in the midfield.
But Spurs rallied and Eriksen found Kane with a low cross from the right – only to see his team-mate foiled by the goalkeeper once again.
Kane was not to be denied for a fourth time though and he finally got his name on the scoresheet in the 36th minute. There was plenty to do when he was gifted possession just inside the MLS half, but he ran at the last defender before firing into the top left corner from the edge of the D.
MLS finished the half on top, with Vertonghen sliding in to stop Dempsey from getting a shot away in front of goal, but Spurs were back in the game at the interval.
The All-Stars changed their whole team at the break while Pochettino introduced three new recruits in Kevin Wimmer, Kieran Trippier and Alli along with Tom Carroll.
Spurs’ centre-backs showed off their ability on the ball and range of passing, with Wimmer firing the ball out to find Trippier in an advanced position and Alderweireld displaying glorious vision and technique to free Chadli from deep inside his own half – but the ball was running across Chadli and he shot wide of the near post.
Tottenham’s signings continued to impress. Trippier whipped in an inviting cross which was put behind for a corner as Kane arrived at the back post, and Alli drifted between the lines to find a pocket of space before playing a reverse pass to Kane, who tried to come inside rather than getting a shot off from the left side of the box and lost the opportunity.
Chadli squandered a good opportunity just after the hour-mark – and that was the cue for six more changes, with McGee, Federico Fazio, Danny Rose, Winks, Yedlin and Onomah all entering the fray.
Tottenham were dominating the game, with their young substitutes seizing the chance to impress.
The All-Stars threatened briefly as Kei Kamara beat Fazio for pace on Spurs’ right touchline and crossed for Fabian Castillo, but Rose slid in with a perfectly-timed sliding tackle.
At the other end a fast one-touch passing move on the edge of the box culminated in Kane freeing Onomah, who was left one on one with the keeper and opened up his body but was unable to steer the ball past him.
Kane was the only member of the starting XI to still be on the pitch at this stage, but he was eventually replaced by Shaq Coulthirst in the 77th minute.
There was an open finish to the contest. A slip from Rose allowed Castillo to get in on goal, but he dragged his shot and Trippier was able to clear the ball off the line behind McGee, who was an audible presence between the sticks, communicating confidently.
Winks then drive through the midfield at pace and found Trippier, whose cross was clawed away by David Ousted. Rose recovered the ball and gave it to Onomah, who sent a low 20-yard drive at the MLS keeper.
The final chance fell to the hosts and they should have made it 3-1, but former Sunderland forward Jozy Altidore headed wide from close range.
Tottenham: Vorm (McGee 63), Walker (Tripper 45), Alderweireld (Fazio 63), Vertonghen (Wimmer 45), Davies (Rose 63), Dier (Winks 63), Bentaleb (Alli 45), Eriksen (Carroll 45), Dembele (Yedlin 63), Chadli (Onomah 63), Kane (Coulthirst 77)
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs