Former L.A. Galaxy and Chicago Fire 'keeper Jorge Campos stole the show at the MLS Celebration Game on Saturday at RFK Stadium, making several huge saves and assisting on the game-tying goal as the MLS World Legends battled back from two goals down to force a 2-2 draw with the MLS USA Legends.
After the USA took a two-goal lead into halftime on goals by Eric Wynalda and Hugo Perez, the World Legends came back into the game with two late goals from Raul Diaz Arce and Mauricio Cienfuegos to cap a fun match that brought the RFK Stadium crowd alive prior to the 2004 Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game.
The end result was an entertaining game in which the players brought back some of the panache they showed during their MLS careers, leaving the crowd gasping with every scoring chance. As expected, there wasn't much defense played throughout the game, and not a whole lot of running either. The MLS USA squad employed an offside trap to keep the MLS World Legends attackers at bay, and it worked during the first half, as the World team was repeatedly caught offside.
The World team, however, included six savvy No. 10s and they worked hard to beat the trap and eventually gave the World team a tie. On the World team's first real chance, former Chicago Fire midfielder and current D.C. United head coach Peter Nowak broke free with former L.A. Galaxy forward Carlos Hermosillo 35 yards from goal. Hermosillo, five years after the end of his MLS career, showed a bit of rust, putting his shot from Nowak's square ball directly into USA 'keeper Tony Meola's chest.
The entire first half was a struggle to shake the dust off by Hermosillo, as he fanned on shots in the first and 12th minutes. His teammates helped pick him up with Nowak looking especially lively, just narrowly heading a Robert Warzycha cross high and wide in the fifth minute.
But the U.S. club also got their chances on goal. In the 10th minute, National Soccer Hall of Fame inductee Wynalda just missed netting the first goal of the match as his first time shot off a lay-off from former MetroStars midfielder Tab Ramos was slapped away by Campos.
In the 15th minute, however, Wynalda wouldn't be denied. Streaking down the right channel, Wynalda hurdled over an attempted slide tackle by former San Jose Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop and placed the ball just inside the far post from six yards out.
Wynalda figured in the USA's second goal as well, settling down a cross from former D.C. United captain John Harkes for former U.S. national team star Perez, who fired a left-footed shot inside Campos' right post.
In the second half, the attacking soccer picked up as the defenders slowed down. Ramos beat two defenders on the right side of the box before being taken down and awarded a penalty kick in the 31st minute. Campos, however, showed his skill have diminished very little by leaping to his right and saving the Ramos effort from the spot. Campos again stoned Ramos three minutes later, pushing wide a shot from the right.
The three minutes that followed saw some of the most exciting end-to-end action of the match. First former D.C. United forward Diaz Arce, Cienfuegos and Yallop took turns blasting shots from close range, but Second-half USA 'keeper substitute Juergen Sommer drew huge cheers from the crowd by acrobatically diving to stop each effort.
But Sommer, the former Columbus Crew and New England Revolution 'keeper had no answer for World midfielder Carlos 'El Pibe' Valderrama. The former Colombian international toyed with Sommer at the six-yard box with some fancy footwork before passing off to Diaz Arce, who scored easily.
In the penultimate minute of the match, Sommer was again at the mercy of some brilliant playmaking and could do nothing about Cienfuegos' game-tying goal.
The fourth and final goal of the match came in the 49th minute off some vintage play by former D.C. United playmaker Marco Etcheverry, former L.A. Galaxy playmaker Cienfuegos and Campos. Campos, exhibiting his penchant for abandoning his net to get involved in the attack, was sent to the endline with a pass by former Galaxy forward Luis Hernandez. After settling the ball, Etcheverry hit a nifty back-heel to Cienfuegos, and 'Cien' deked a defender and easily slotted home.
Sierra Mist MLS Celebration Game
July 31, 2004 -- RFK Stadium
USA -- Eric Wynalda 1 (unassisted) 15
USA -- Hugo Perez 1 (Eric Wynalda 1, John Harkes 1) 25
WORLD -- Raul Diaz Arce 1 (Carlos Valderrama 1) 37
WORLD -- Mauricio Cienfuegos (Marco Etcheverry 1, Jorge Campos 1) 49
USA LEGENDS -- Tony Meola (Juergen Sommer 27); Fernando Clavijo, Alexi Lalas, Marcelo Balboa, Paul Caligiuri (Frank Klopas 27); Tab Ramos, Mike Sorber, Thomas Dooley, John Harkes; Hugo Perez (Mike Burns 27), Eric Wynalda (Cobi Jones 27)
Substitute not used: Cle Kooiman
TOTAL SHOTS: 14; SHOTS ON GOAL: 7; FOULS: 3; OFFSIDES: 4; CORNER KICKS: 3
WORLD LEGENDS -- Jorge Campos; Robert Warzycha, Richard Gough (Martin Vasquez 22), Frank Yallop, Michael Emenalo (Marco Etcheverry re-enters 38), Mo Johnston, Marco Etcheverry (Mauricio Ramos 26), Carlos Valderrama (Luis Hernandez re-enters 38), Peter Nowak (Mauricio Cienfuegos 26); Luis Hernandez (Giovanni Savarese 26), Carlos Hermosillo (Raul Diaz Arce 26)
TOTAL SHOTS: 14; SHOTS ON GOAL: 7; FOULS: 5; OFFSIDES: 6; CORNER KICKS: 4
WORLD - Frank Yallop (caution) 49
Referee: Esse Baharmast
Referee's Assistants: Dan Stead; Chip Boatwright
4th Official: Brian Hall
Jason Halpin is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.