July 25, 2012
By Charles Cuttone
MLS Stars win on late goal
CHESTER, Pa.--Wednesday night’s MLS All Star game was a rarity. There was some defense played, and it wasn’t a blowout. After back-to-back big losses, the MLS All Stars beat Chelsea 3-2 on a late goal by Eddie Johnson.
|San Jose striker Chris Wondolowski puts the MLS All-Stars on the board against Chelsea Wednesday at PPL Park.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Much to the delight of the PPL Park record crowd of 19,236, the All Stars took the lead in the 21st minute. The New York Red Bulls’ Thierry Henry made a run down the left side of the penalty area and sent a cross into the six-yard box. The ball hit off a Chelsea defender, and MLS scoring leader Chris Wondolowski of the San Jose Earthquakes was there to poke it in.
Chelsea leveled the game in the 32nd minute, following a corner kick that Frank Lampard served into the area. John Terry went up almost at the penalty spot and sent a header past Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen.
Despite only two practices together the MLS defense held their own, showing some cracks only on set plays.
And that’s where the reigning European champions took advantage again. Following a corner kick, the ball pinged around the area and fell to Lampard, who swept it into the far side of the net in the 58th minute.
Two of DC United’s stars combined for the MLS equalizer in the 73rd minute. The LA Galaxy’s David Beckham served up a perfect long diagonal ball from the defensive side of the center circle. Dwayne De Rosario controlled the ball and went almost to the end line before laying it back to teammate Chris Pontius. The United midfielder punctuated a nearly 50-yard run by slamming the ball into the net.
This year’s MLS Stars looked more cohesive than the squads had looked in the last two years’ losses to Manchester United, by scores of 4-0 and 5-2.
Johnson scored the game-winner in stoppage time. Real Salt Lake’s Kyle Beckerman controlled the ball outside the penalty area and sent a short pass forward. Johnson waited, then came back to retrieve the ball and turned to shoot. The ball took a slight deflection and went over Chelsea goalkeeper Ross Turnbull.
In addition to Lampard, who factored in both goals, the Blues’ best player was forward Romelu Lukaku, who proved dangerous all night. Vancouver’s Jay DeMerit made one of the best defensive plays of the evening in the 7th minute to rob the Belgian striker of a clear shot. DeMerit made a daring slide tackle inside the area to strip the ball away.
Lukaku did a nice stepover in the 25th minute and took a shot, two MLS defenders collided right in front of Nielsen, but he was able to recover and grab the ball. In the 48th minute, Lukaku struck a free kick just outside the penalty area. The ball went over the wall, but kept rising and barely missed the crossbar.
Three minutes later, Beckham had a free kick from similar distance with the same effect and result.
With the score tied 2-2 in the 78th minute, De Rosario put a 20-yard free kick just over the goal.
The Blues had a chance to tie the game only moments after Pontius gave MLS the lead, but David Luz blasted his free kick right into the wall.
Chelsea has one more game remaining on its U.S. Tour, on Saturday against AC Milan at Sun Life Stadium in Miami.