Kick Off: All-Stars glitter in last-gasp win over Chelsea
David Beckham, Landon Donovan, and the rest of Major League Soccer’s finest were better than Europe’s finest. For one night, at least.
The best of MLS came back from a goal down to defeat European champions Chelsea 3-2 in front of a record crowd at PPL Park in Philadelphia. Seattle striker Eddie Johnson grabbed the game-winning goal in injury time.
Chris Wondolowski's typically clinical finish opened the scoring before a John Terry header pulled Chelsea level. Frank Lampard put the Blues up, 2-1. Then the All-Stars equalized in the second half when Chris Pontius finished a pass from Dwayne De Rosario, setting the stage for EJ's dramatic finish.
All-Star head coach Ben Olsen was delighted to see Johnson come through with the decisive goal. "He’s had his ups and down," Olsen said, "and I hope he continues to succeed.”
Olsen's D.C. United player Pontius is only having ups this year. The in-form attacker was a thorn in the side of Chelsea's defense all night, and deservedly came away with the Volkswagen MVP award for his efforts.
Postgame, there were plaudits for many MLSers. Nearly everyone lauded the performance of Vancouver captain Jay DeMerit for an inspired display at the back, despite the fact that he was forced to go 90 minutes due to Aurelien Collin's injury. Thierry Henry was thrilled that the MLSers played real soccer against Chelsea. And Goal.com gave the players good ratings almost top to bottom.
Even Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo was impressed, reserving a special mention for Sounders midfielder Osvaldo Alonso. Chelsea goalscorers Terry and Lampard – who both played in 2006 when the All-Stars defeated Chelsea 1-0 in Chicago - gave MLS a well-deserved pat on the back. “I’ve watched the MLS from back home and it’s improving year after year, and you can see that in the players as well," Terry said.
But there wasn’t much praise from the British press. The Telegraph hammered Chelsea’s “unfamiliar defensive errors.”
However there was an Englishman who impressed. David Beckham's whirlwind day included a flight from London, 74 minutes for the All-Stars, and a flight back to London straight after the win in order to appear in the opening ceremony of the Olympics in his hometown on Friday.
The MLS Insider was behind the scenes all night long in Philadelphia. See what extras he managed to grab here.
NBC’s Steve Davis gave his view on the All-Stars' victory, and what it means for the league.
The 2012 ASG game also marked the world’s first-ever “smart soccer match” as adidas showcased the miCoach Elite System. Steven Beitashour led in both top speed and distance covered: Check out his stats.
Up I-95 in Boston, American Michael Bradley gave Roma fans a glimpse of things to come as he scored the opening goal in Giallorosso's 2-1 win over Liverpool, at a sold out Fenway Park.
It was a good day all round for US soccer, as the women's Olympic team came back to beat France, in the opener of their London 2012 Olympic campaign. Alex Morgan was the star of the show, scoring twice in a 4-2 win after Les Blues went up 2-0 early on at Hampden Park in Glasgow.
The US team's other group G opponents Colombia and North Korea didn't kickoff until much later than expected, after this embarrassing blunder from the Olympic organizers.
The All-Star game's finish marks the start of the second half of the season. Teams are ready to move, starting with New York completing the signing of Tim Cahill. The deal is edging closer as he was spotted in the crowd at PPL Park. This fan of the Australian A-League isn't so sure.
A player heading in the opposite direction, Geoff Cameron, could finally see his transfer to EPL’s Stoke City completed today. He will reportedly join the Potters in Orlando, where they are continuing preseason training. Stoke boss Tony Pulis believes MLS to EPL transfers will become more frequent in the coming years.
MLS league action returns on Friday night with All-Stars Jay DeMerit and Kyle Beckerman face off against each other, as RSL host Vancouver (9pm ET, MLS Live).
This morning there has been action involving MLS players already at London 2012, with Jerry Bengtson scoring twice for Honduras - who also fielded D.C. United's Andy Najar - in their 2-2 tie with Morocco in Glasgow.
And finally, women’s soccer kicked off yesterday at London 2012 with the first sensational moment of the games. Watch this majestic goal.