July 25, 2012
By Charles Cuttone
UNITED THEY STAND
DC duo lifts MLS stars over Chelsea
CHESTER, Pa.---For a change, the Major League All Stars put on a good show. After back-to-back blowouts in the last two All-Star games at the hands of Manchester United, there were some calls for the league to change the format of the game.
|Dwayne De Rosario set up DC United teammate Chris Pontius for the 2-2 equalizer against Chelsea, and was named the MLS All-Star Game MVP.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
MLS’ leading scorer, a pair of DC United teammates and a resurgent Eddie Johnson may have helped change the thinking on that, all contributing as the All Stars defeated reigning European champions Chelsea FC 3-2 at PPL Park on Wednesday night.
Dwayne De Rosario set up teammate Chris Pontius in the 73rd minute to tie the game, and Johnson netted the game winner in stoppage time. Even if they hadn’t, the All-Stars put on a considerably better showing than they did the past two years.
“The players did a phenomenal job, “said DC United coach Ben Olsen, who managed the MLS All-Stars. “I think they did MLS proud.”
Olsen was a bit concerned about how the outcome might look, especially at the start of the game.
“When I saw the guys the put out there to start, I thought we got them angry the last few days,” he said of the Blues’ powerhouse lineup.
But Chelsea Manager Robero DiMatteo was just looking to give his guys a good run.
He too was impressed with the MLS selection.
“I think the MLS team looked very sharp. Obviously they are in midseason form.” Di Matteo’s team has so far only had two run outs this preseason, defeating the Seattle Sounders 4-2, then playing to a 1-1 tie with Paris Saint-Germain at Yankee Stadium on Sunday. They end their U.S. tour against AC Milan in Miami on Saturday.
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.
The two DC 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. De Rosario controlled the ball and went almost to the end line before laying it back to teammate Pontius. The United midfielder punctuated a nearly 50-yard run by slamming the ball into the net.
“He draws two defenders to him,” said Pontius of De Rosario, “and I am wide open and he puts the ball on my foot.”
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.
It was just that kind of night.