Major League Soccer is the greatest football league in the world.
OK, not really. The fact remains that Wednesday night's MLS All-Star Game that saw our domestic league's "best of the best" defeat European Champions Chelsea 3-2 means little, if anything, at all. The result is unquestionably much better than the league's all-stars being trounced as has happened over the past couple of years, even if the MLS side did receive a bit of help from match referee Baldomero Toledo during the final minutes of play, and even if the Eddie Johnson stoppage time winner was somewhat of a lucky goal caused by a deflection. I'm more than happy to take what I can get, of course, and an all-star team made up of players currently in midseason form did exactly what they should do; beat a solid opponent that is not yet halfway through its preseason training.
3 thoughts on 2012 MLS All-Star team beating Chelsea: Henry
As a New York Red Bulls fan, I cannot talk about Wednesday's match without mentioning club captain Thierry Henry. Henry acted as if he was wearing RBNY red and white, dropping back to play a CAM role after just a few minutes of play. He set up the first goal of the contest, when he sent a first time cross into the box toward San Jose Earthquakes star and MLS leading scorer Chris Wondolowski, who was being marked by John Terry. Terry took a spill as he attempted to play the ball, allowing Wondo to tap home the match opener. Henry then came close to putting the MLS All-Stars up 2-1 four minutes before the halftime break, but his curling attempt went a foot or two wide of the right post.
Henry was hardly perfect during the match. He was guilty of a couple of poor through balls that probably should have been better, and his first touch betrayed him on at least two occasions. In all, I'd say that Henry had himself a fine evening, and I was very pleased to see him jog off the pitch after just 57 minutes of play.
3 thoughts on 2012 MLS All-Star team beating Chelsea: MVP
Substitute Chris Pontius was responsible for the match equalizer in the 73rd minute, and he was a key man throughout his 45+ minutes on the field. With that said, I had defender Jay DeMerit pegged as match MVP even before Johnson's deflected shot went past the goalline, and many fans and analysts posting on social networking websites immediately following the contest agreed with me. DeMerit was an anchor in the MLS back line, coming up with some of the most clutch tackles of the contest. He also played a full 90 minutes despite Vancouver Whitecaps, his MLS home, being scheduled to play at Real Salt Lake this coming Friday evening. DeMerit was, for my money, the best overall player on the pitch during Wednesday night's contest, and he deserved to be lifting the MVP trophy following the game.
3 thoughts on 2012 MLS All-Star team beating Chelsea: Noteworthy
Remember when the '06 MLS All-Stars beat Chelsea and then celebrated as if they won the Super Bowl, Champions League and Las Vegas Scrabble Tournament all in one? That didn't happen this time around. Landon Donovan literally wanted nothing to do with the trophy. The previously mentioned Henry patted a teammate or two on the back while seemingly checking his watch to see when it would be acceptable to leave. MLS legend Dwayne De Rosario eventually accepted the all-star game trophy before lifting it in a most lackadaisical manner.
No jumping up and down. No streamers. No nothing outside of the customary post-match team picture. The players in the MLS All-Star squad, outside of (named) game MVP Chris Pontius, all had "no big deal" looks on their faces. It was just another day in the office for these players, and I don't at all mean that in an insulting way. Stars such as De Rosario, Donovan, DeMerit, Beckham, Henry and Wondolowski don't need games against Chelsea to know they can hang against European opponents. They already know, and there's a good chance that several MLS players, some who weren't even included in the 2012 All-Star team, will have an opportunity to prove that this fall and winter.
I've never been a fan of this particular MLS All-Star Game format, and my thoughts on the subject haven't changed one bit after Wednesday's result. This particular match did no damage to the league, nor did it cause any harm to a player who features for my favorite MLS club. Due to those two facts, even this cynic can't complain about the game this time around;
but you can be sure I will next winter when the league announces the European opponent that will face off against the 2013 MLS All-Stars.