CHESTER, Pa. – As soon as the D.C. United player scored a goal off a pass from his D.C. United teammate, the D.C. United head coach jumped off the bench with excitement.
It was that kind of night for the original MLS franchise, which had a huge role in Wednesday’s 3-2 victory for the MLS All-Stars over Chelsea FC at PPL Park. The most important D.C. connection came in the 73rd minute when United forward Chris Pontius – who had been subbed on by United coach Ben Olsen – tied the contest at 2-2 on a perfectly placed pass from teammate Dwayne De Rosario.
“It was a great moment,” said Olsen, who admitted he was a “little ashamed” at himself for jumping out of his seat after the goal. “And I turned around and looked at my staff and they were pretty excited, too.”
Pontius was named the game’s MVP for his second-half heroics – a small point of contention with Olsen, who said with a smile, “I don’t know if he’s the MVP.” Nevertheless, it was a thrilling moment for the midfielder who battled back from a broken leg to earn his first All-Star spot.
HIGHLIGHTS: MLS 3, CHE 2
“I didn’t think I would be here, to be honest with you, with how everything went,” Pontius said. “It’s been a long road. I had a rough start to the season just personally [before] I was able to find a groove. Benny stuck with me for most of it.
“It’s nice to come out here and have the D.C. staff and have DeRo as well with me," he added. "And to be able to get that goal against Chelsea is something special.”
Pontius humbly credited De Rosario for the goal, calling it a “perfect ball” that the Canadian international played back to him after “drawing the attention of two defenders” and allowing him to get a great look on net. But De Rosario – who netted the game-winner against Chelsea in the 2006 All-Star Game – deflected praise back to his D.C. teammate.
“The way it worked out was sweet,” said De Rosario, who was making his seventh All-Star appearance. “I’m happy for the kid. I was happy he was able to be named MVP. Hopefully there are many more to come. He’s a big player for us and I’m glad he scored the goal tonight.”
De Rosario also praised the tactical performance of his coach, who pushed all the right buttons in the victory, even if Olsen claimed afterwards that not much coaching was involved.
“This was huge for him,” De Rosario said. “Look at the transition he’s made; going from a player to a coach is not easy. Now he’s an All-Star coach in his second year and that speaks volumes of the guy that he is.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Philadelphia Union for MLSsoccer.com E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.