The MLS All-Stars got three second-half goals, including a pair from substitute Jeff Cunningham, to race past Fulham FC of the English Premier League for a 4-1 victory in the 2005 Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game on Saturday afternoon at Columbus Crew Stadium.
MLS All-Star Game Honda MVP Taylor Twellman (New England Revolution) gave the MLS team the lead midway through the first half, but a penalty converted by Fulham's Claus Jensen sent the teams into the break level. Ronnie O'Brien (FC Dallas) deflected a Clint Dempsey (New England Revolution) shot to put the MLS side ahead for good just before the hour. Cunningham (Colorado Rapids) scored two goals in the final five minutes to provide the final scoreline.
The MLS All-Stars earned the first good scoring chance of the match in the third minute as Fulham defender Moritz Volz misplayed a cross by O'Brien. The German's header went straight up in the air and Dempsey fired a shot towards the back post, but it was cleared away by Carlos Bocanegra.
The former Chicago Fire defender was unable to save the London squad from an early deficit in the 23rd minute. Landon Donovan fed a ball from just outside the penalty box to Twellman, and the Revolution forward beat Bocanegra to the ball and poked it past netminder Mark Crossley to give the MLS All-Stars an early lead.
The same pair was wreaking havoc in the Fulham defense five minutes. The Whites allowed Donovan to carry the ball to the penalty box where the Galaxy star found Twellman, whose shot went just wide of goalkeeper's right post. During the play, Crossley was injured and soon replaced by Jaroslav Drobny.
The MLS lead lasted only for a quarter hour as Fulham leveled the match from the penalty spot. Jensen found Luis Boa Morte streaking on the left side of the pitch and Chris Albright took down the Portuguese player as he tried to slip past in the area. From the spot, Jensen sent Matt Reis the wrong way to pull the visitors even.
Another beautiful piece of setup work by Donovan was wasted in the 38th minute. A through ball from the Galaxy forward put Dempsey behind the defense and in alone on goal, but the Revolution midfielder's shot narrowly missed the target.
Fulham had a great chance to take the lead five minutes into the second stanza. A pass to space by Brian McBride perfectly led Tomasz Radzinski on the right. While Jimmy Conrad (Kansas city Wizards) chased from behind, the Canadian striker beat Matt Reis (New England Revolution) with an angled drive, but the left post saved the netminder.
A curling O'Brien blast challenged Drobny in the 54th minute, the Fulham 'keeper able to push the shot out for a corner.
But Fulham had no answer for O'Brien just a couple minutes later. An Ivan Guerrero (Chicago Fire) effort was headed away from goal, but not out of danger, by Bocanegra. Dempsey came running on at the top of the area and volleyed the clearance towards goal, the shot deflected ever slightly inside the far post by the Irishman.
In the final attack before both players were being substituted out of the match, Donovan found Dempsey with a cross six yards from goal, but Dempsey's open volley went well over the bar.
The MLS All-Stars nearly extended on two occasions, but Twellman struck a shot off the near post in the 72nd minute and Cunningham was denied by Drobny's diving save two minutes later.
Fulham nearly grabbed an equalizer against the run of play in the 79th minute but Matt Reis parried Steed Malbranque's shot over the goal.
The match was put beyond question five minutes later as Cunningham added two late insurance goals to guarantee a victorious afternoon for the MLS side. In the 85th minute, he collected a neat pass from Christian Gomez that split the defense, ripping a low drive from the right that cleanly beat Drobny and bounced off the inside of the post into the net.
Then in the 89th minute, the speed of Cunningham took advantage of the lack of fitness of the Fulham team, still in their preseason preparations and at the end of a match on an unfamiliar hot day. Cunningham took a short pass in the center circle and burst through the Fulham back line, racing in alone before slipping a rolling shot home.
MLS All-Star Game Honda MVP: Taylor Twellman (New England Revolution)
John Kuhn is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.
Fulham FC vs. MLS All-Stars
July 30, 2005 -- Columbus Crew Stadium
MLS -- Taylor Twellman (Landon Donovan) 23
FFC -- Claus Jensen (penalty kick) 36
MLS -- Ronnie O'Brien (Clint Dempsey) 56
MLS -- Jeff Cunningham (Christian Gomez) 85
MLS -- Jeff Cunningham (Shalrie Joseph) 89
Fulham FC -- Mark Crossley (Jaroslav Drobny 31), Moritz Volz, Carlos Bocanegra (Alain Goma 61), Zat Knight, Niclas Jensen, Steed Malbranque (Ahmed Elrich 89), Claus Jensen, Zesh Rehman (Sylvain Legwinski 75), Luis Boa Morte, Brian McBride (Collins John 61), Tomasz Radzinski (Heider Helguson 68).
Substitutes Not Used: Liam Rosenour, Michael Timlin.
TOTAL SHOTS: 10 (Claus Jensen 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (Claus Jensen 2, Steed Malbranque 2); FOULS: 13 (4 tied with 2); OFFSIDES: 2 (Brian McBride 1, Tomasz Radzinski 1); CORNER KICKS: 2 (Claus Jensen 2); SAVES: 2 (Jaroslav Drobny 2)
MLS All-Stars -- Matt Reis (Scott Garlick 89), Chris Albright (Ivan Guerrero 46), Jimmy Conrad, Greg Vanney, Frankie Hejduk, Ronnie O'Brien (Michael Parkhurst 84), Shalrie Joseph, Simo Valakari, Clint Dempsey (Jeff Cunningham 68), Taylor Twellman (Brad Davis 75), Landon Donovan (Christian Gomez 64).
Substitutes Not Used: NONE
TOTAL SHOTS: 15 (Clint Dempsey 4, Taylor Twellman 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 6 (Jeff Cunningham 3); FOULS: 13 (Jimmy Conrad 3, Clint Dempsey 3); OFFSIDES: 7 (Taylor Twellman 6); CORNER KICKS: 3 (Landon Donovan 2); SAVES: 3 (Matt Reis 3)
FFC -- Moritz Volz (caution; Persistent Infringement) 39
MLS -- Jeff Cunningham (caution; Game Disrepute) 90
Referee: Ricardo Valenzuela
Referee's Assistants: -George Gansner; Chris Strickland
4th Official: Ricardo Salazar
Time of Game: 1:51
All Statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.