Blanco has goal and assist, MLS stars top West Ham
TORONTO (AP)—Just making it to the Major League Soccer All-Star game was a “nightmare” for Dwayne DeRosario. Once he arrived, it turned into a night he’ll never forget.
The Houston midfielder scored a tiebreaking penalty, Chicago midfielder Cuauhtemoc Blanco had one goal and helped set up another, and the MLS All-Stars posted a 3-2 victory over English Premier League team West Ham United on Thursday night.
“A game like this in my hometown, I can’t ask for anything more, especially to have an opportunity to have an impact in the game,” said DeRosario, who grew up in suburban Toronto. “For me, it’s a dream come true.”
It’s the second time in three years that DeRosario has scored the winning goal in the MLS All-Star game; his second-half strike helped the MLS beat English club Chelsea 1-0 in 2006.
DeRosario and Houston teammate and fellow Canadian Pat Onstad didn’t arrive in Toronto until early Thursday morning. The Dynamo had to play a makeup game in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday night, and rain forced a 3-hour delay and a finish after midnight. The pair caught an early morning flight to Toronto, but were delayed another 90 minutes at the airport.
“It was terrible,” DeRosario said. “I was very disappointed. It’s supposed to be a week the players enjoy, especially with it being in my hometown, to really soak up the atmosphere. I really missed that. In the future things need to be handled a bit better.”
Blanco was chosen as the game’s most valuable player for the All-Stars, who are unbeaten in five years against foreign opponents.
“The MLS players showed we have good players in our league, not only good players but great players,” New England coach Steve Nicol said.
Forward Dean Ashton scored both goals for West Ham, which beat MLS’ Columbus Crew 3-1 in an exhibition match on Sunday that was marred by a halftime scuffle between fans of both teams.
Los Angeles midfielder David Beckham played the entire game and earned an assist in his first MLS All-Star appearance. Beckham came close to scoring in the 40th minute, but his low free kick was headed away by West Ham defender Calum Davenport.
The England international had two more opportunities early in the second half, running onto a loose ball inside the 18-yard box but shooting high and just wide. He missed wide again on a free kick minutes later.
“I’d read about the last five years not losing so I was kind of nervous and hoping that we would win,” Beckham said. “As soon as we started I knew we were capable of winning it because of the quality we’ve got in the team.”
West Ham opened the scoring in the 26th minute when Carlton Cole’s header sent Ashton in alone on goal. Ashton, who made his international debut for England last month, coolly fired a low shot past New England goalkeeper Matt Reis and into the bottom corner.
The lead was short-lived, as Beckham and Blanco teamed up to help the MLS All-Stars tie it one minute later. Blanco’s clever back-heel on Beckham’s pass from midfield sent Colorado midfielder Christian Gomez into the 18-yard box, and he scored with a low shot under West Ham goalkeeper Robert Green.
Blanco put the All-Stars in front 2-1 with a brilliant goal just before halftime. Dallas midfielder Juan Toja slid a short pass to Blanco, who eluded Scott Parker and curled a shot into a far corner, beyond Green’s outstretched arms.
Nicol called it “a fantastic goal.”
“He’s a guy you want on your team,” Nicol said.
Beckham was equally impressed.
“As long as he doesn’t do that against the Galaxy, that’s good,” Beckham joked. “We as players know he’s quality and we tried to play to his strengths. We were able to connect, not just me and him but all the players all over the field.”
Ashton tied it 2-2 in the 68th minute when his long shot deflected off Kansas City defender Jimmy Conrad and past Reis.
Again, the MLS wasted little time in replying. Referee Mauricio Navarro pointed to the penalty spot after Lucas Neill brought down DeRosario inside the penalty box. With the record crowd of 20,844 roaring, DeRosario blasted his shot off the underside of the crossbar. The ball then took a fortunate bounce into the goal.
“For a split second I was a little concerned, but thankfully it went in the back of the net,” DeRosario said.
West Ham’s Luis Boa Morte almost tied it in the final minute of regular time, but shot wide.
DeRosario nearly added a second goal soon after, but Green deflected away the free kick with his palm while diving.
The MLS All-Stars beat Mexico’s Guadalajara 3-1 in 2003 and, after returning to an East-West format in 2004, defeated English team Fulham 4-1 in 2005. After blanking Chelsea in 2006, they beat Scotland’s Celtic 2-0 last year.
“The MLS is gaining momentum week in and week out,” West Ham manager Alan Curbishley said. “In Europe, we see lots of the games, we keep in touch with it. You’re probably going to find more European players attracted to the league.”
West Ham defender Jonathan Spector, of Arlington Heights, Ill., missed the game because of recent hip surgery.
Beckham took all seven corner kicks for the All-Stars. … MLS announced plans Thursday to add two expansion teams in time for the 2011 season, boosting league membership to 18. … The English and American national anthems were played before the teams took the field, but not the Canadian anthem. After briefly booing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the crowd launched into an impromptu version of “O Canada.” The Canadian anthem was performed live after both teams had entered the field.