It was a much anticipated game for soccer fans in the Tri-State area, as the All Star Match was to be played at Red Bull Arena. Even for those who are not fans of the greatest sport in the world, it was hard to go anywhere in the Big Apple and not see an event or poster referring to the All Star Matchup against Manchester United.
For loyal MLS fans, the chosen squad seemed like a strong and solid one, leaving most fans hopeful for a win, or at least a tie. How could we not with stellar strikers such as Thierry Henry, Juan Agudelo and Omar Bravo?
Defensively the team seemed like a coach’s dream come true; Sean Franklin, Jamison Olave, Tim Ream and Bobby Convey, with a midfield that should have demonstrated more chemistry between David Beckham, Shalrie Joseph and Brad Davis.
On paper, the team seemed like “the little team that could”, however on the field, it became clear that one practice session is not enough against a heavyweight like Manchester United.
The afternoon started early for the fans, with vendors, street teams, games and challenges of all kinds, and for all ages. By 8pm, most of the 26, 760 fans had found their way inside and when looking around, it was a swarm of red shirts; many of these shirts sporting “Chicharito”, who had spent the previous night in the hospital with a concussion, and would not be playing.
Red Bull wasted no time on advertisement and promotion, starting the festivities with two Red Bull endorsed parachutes dropping into the stadium. This was followed by a firework show, a moment of silence for those in Norway, and finally the moment everyone had been waiting for…kick off.
The first half saw a physical game from both sides, with Olave looking particularly strong in his job of defending Wayne Rooney. The back four for the All Stars seemed to be holding down the ball, until Manchester United found a way through in the 20th minute when Anderson, assisted by Rooney found the net.
The All Stars were hungry to equalize, but time and time again, the ball was either too short or too long to find Henry, who faced an open net more than once.
The attacking from the All Stars never seized to amaze, but miscommunication seemed a problem. Perhaps one training session does not grant strikers and forwards enough time to understand each other, while defensively it is an easier feat playing a position successfully without much time spent together.
That being said, Park found another hole in the defense and solidified Manchester United in the lead, with their second goal of the evening coming in the 45th minute.
The second half saw less fight from the All Stars, with only a few chances that they were not able to take advantage of. The All Stars only had one less shot on goal than the “Red Devils”, but Manchester United’s defense never faltered.
Merely a few minutes into the second half, Berbatov found the net in the 52nd to put them up by three goals. Backe scrambled and made a few substitutes, but it would prove unsuccessful when Welbeck put the 4th away for Manchester United.
This would be the first time in six years that the All Stars had failed to score a goal at all, with previous matches against Manchester United, Everton, West Ham, Celtic, Chelsea and Fulham all generating goals.
Many fans were disappointed with an individual referring to the game as a “Major League Embarrassment.” Backe stated that he was content with the way the team played together stating, “We had a good 90 minutes. The first half, I would say, possession was 50/50.” He also reiterated that it was difficult playing together after only one training session against a team that is preparing for their season which starts next week.
With Manchester United finishing up their US tour, and with all of their MLS opponents out of the way, one cannot help but wonder–having beaten Seattle Sounders 7-0, while other MLS opponents were able to at least score a goal against these giants; with the very best of the MLS selected and unable to produce a goal, are the All Stars any better than the Seattle Sounders?
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