ATLANTA - The MLS All-Stars took a 1-1 draw into penalties against seven-time reigning Italian champions Juventus, but it was a 45-minute, clean sheet shift from FC Dallas captain Matt Hedges that left the now two-time All-Star smiling after Wednesday’s performance at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
“Being out there for 45 minutes, just getting a run out and playing against that caliber of a squad, it’s a fun experience,” Hedges said after coming on for the second half of the 2018 MLS All-Star Game in Atlanta. “It’s good to keep the shutout. That’s what we talked about as a back four yesterday at practice, just wanting to get the shutout. I thought we created a lot of chances and we could’ve won the game.”
After a pair of goals in the opening half, first from the visitors before an answer from MLS Golden Boot leader Josef Martinez, Hedges was one of six changes Tata Martino made at the break in the annual showcase. Juventus took 11 shots over the final 45, but only found two chances on frame as the two sides took the 1-1 game to penalties, where the Italians took the game, 5-3.
Hedges completed 25 of his 26 passes and had one tackle as he helped the MLS All-Stars close out regulation.
The lone representative from FCD in this year’s game after three Dallas players made the 2017 roster, Hedges feels he shouldn’t have been alone in the recognition from the best team in the West.
“We should have more, obviously,” Hedges said. “We’re first in the West and one of the best teams in the league. For us to only get one player in the All-Star Game is kind of a shame, to be honest.”
Now, his focus turns back to league play as he re-joins his club ahead of Saturday’s match vs. the San Jose Earthquakes. He’ll likely get just one session with his team ahead of the weekend, but knows his main goal is keeping Dallas’ current run of form in-tact as the calendar turns to August.
“We need to keep our level high, our intensity high and in the last few weeks I feel like we’ve had some of our best performances of the year,” he said before returning to Dallas Thursday. “[We have to] just keep reminding the guys that we need to be intense every week.”