Photo credit: MLS/Paul Giamou
David Beckham, Jim Brennan and Jorge Flores visit a young fan in the hospital.
Welcome to the All-Star Game - where rivalries (Chivas USA and Galaxy and TFC) are put aside as players take on the world (West Ham).
Predictions, people. I know you've already voted in our Sideline Views poll, but now you need to guess who is going to score. Get your picks in before kickoff for bragging rights.
Yay! El Juego de las Estrellas! I'm watching on Telefutura, in case you didn't get the hint. Aww, Blanco and Donovan did the welcome together, LD cracking up a bit at the end. That was cute. Now they're doing a montage where the players explain what the game means to them. Angel and Toja mention how they were injured earlier this year and makes it meaningful to get here anyway. LD says that with the players the All-Star team has, this is a real game. He also gives Toronto props. Pablo Mastroeni trips up over his Spanish, but says this is important. Blanco, in his always-surprisingly soft voice, says this is a game for the fans and that he expects and hopes that they will enjoy it.
More Blanco after the commercial - he says he'd like to rejoin El Tri, but it's up to Sven. He says that of all of LD's qualities, he'd like his quickness. He calls LD a friend, but says when they're on different teams, they're competitive rivals. As far as him contributing to the Fire, Blanco says, of course he's working hard. "Mexicans come here to work," Blanco says. He says he's been inspired by all his countrymen here that work hard, seeking the American dream.
The announcers say that Cuauh seems more relaxed these days.
Now they're interviewing LD. He says he never imagined playing with Cuauh, but that Blanco is friendly and calm and that they had fun at practice. LD says he'd like Blanco's tricks in his own arsenal. "He does what he likes with the ball."
LD says MLS is improving, and Blanco, as well as Beckham and Angel are a big part of that. The announcer also references LD's stated desire to go play abroad, says this could be his last All-Star Game.
Beckham and Blanco lead out the All-Stars. The shorts are a rather bright Pepsi blue, but I like the black shirts. West Ham is in light blue.
West Ham: Robert Green, Lucas Neill, Anton Ferdinand, Scott Parker, Dean Ashton, Matthew Etherington, Carlton Cole, Hayden Mullins, Julien Faubert, Calum Davenport, Joe Widdowson
All-Stars: Matt Reis, Frankie Hejduk, Christian Gomez, Juan Toja, Jimmy Conrad, Jonathan Bornstein, Shalrie Joseph, David Beckham, Pablo Mastroeni, Kenny Cooper, Cuauhtemoc Blanco
No LD in the starting line-up and the announcers complain a bit about this, wanting to see LD and Blanco together after all that buildup.
Becks has his hand up against the setting sun.
2 - Chippy play already - Bornstien fouled.
3 - Offside on West Ham. The All-Stars are woefully our of sync, but it's early yet.
4 - Bornstein nods the ball down to Reis.
5 - Ooh, West Ham on the attack again, ball in the box, but a shot doesn't get off.
6 - The announcers talk about the lack of practice time and the difficulty of not unrestanding each other as a team. Just then, Becks crosses to Coop, but the ball gets cut off.
8 - Ashton shoves Hejduk in the box.
9 - Corner for MLS, but it's cleared. Frankie misses a chance to shoot, but Jonny cuts off the counter attack cross.
10 - Pablo's sliding tackle cuts off a shot. Corner. That one is cleared, but a ball deflects off an MLS player for another corner. Julien Faubert takes it, but it's cleared as well.
12 - Cooper with an outside low shot. It's wide.
13 - A good MLS attack is ruined when Bornstein's overlap doesn't take the turf into account and the ball runs away from him.
15 - Lots of basically pointless possession for the MLS side. They're having trouble timing runs and just hitting a lot of passes back and forth in the midfield.
17 - Blanco goes down, gets the call. It's far away, though, so neither he or Becks fight over the FK.
19 - Gomez to Cooper, who gets grabbed but doesn't go down right away, trying to shoot the ball. The ref waves it off.
20 - Cooper earns a corner. As Becks goes to take it, he gets streamers tossed at him. I though MLS was supposed to crack down on those? The announcer are surprised the TFC fans are throwing stuff at Becks. The service bounces around the area, but Green eventually corrals it as it popped up towards the goal.
22 - MLS still struggling to put together an attacking play.
24 - West Ham with a nice run of possession, but the through ball runs off on the turf, far ahead of the forwards it was meant for.
26 - GOAL! This time Ashton makes no mistake - a ball out of the midfield falls well for him and Frankie's tackle is too late. Ashton shoots to the left of Reis. 1-0 West Ham
27 - GOAL! MLS strikes back. Becks passes to Blanco, who put in a sweet backheel to Gomez, who shoots far post - side netting. Nice. 1-1 All square again.
31 - Now another run of MLS possession - Becks shoots and earns a corner. The clearance fall to him and he picks out Gomez at the top of the box, who shoots so horrible that if he hadn't already scored, everybody would hate him.
34 - Bornstein and Blanco - nice give and go, Blanco crosses to Cooper in front of the goal, who gets pulled down, but no call again.
37 - Cooper tracks way back into the midfield for the ball and gets fouled. Announcers discuss how Schelotto should be an All-Star. Toja with a nice play advances the MLS cause.
39 - Blanco earns a FK - who will take it? Becks, it looks like. He clears the wall, and Green dives to parry it. Corner.
40 - Cleared, but falls to Becks and he takes a shot. Wide.
41 - Honestly, the play looks better. MLS players finding a bit of rhythm.
43 - West Ham manages to hold them off, though. Ooh, Toja breaks through with a pass to Bornstien, but the ball back isn't great for Toja.
44 - GOAL! This time, though, Toja hooks up with 'Temo. Blanco overlaps and receives a pass back in a good spot - and hits a bending shot that finds the upper 90 and side netting. 2-1 MLS leads. Golazo! The announcers get high off 'Temo's goal.
45 - West Ham with an immediate attack, but the ball pops loose and Reis claims it.
45+ MLS with a late attack chance off a FK, but West Ham escape.
Blanco's halftime interview - he says the game is hard, but that they were able to work together to get the two goals. He's asked how important it was to answer the first goal and he agrees. He says he saw Christian make the run for the goal and made sure to get him the ball. Then he's asked about his goal and he smiles - it's a "yeah, wasn't that sweet" smile.
Halftime: MLS deserve the lead, but at the very least, West Ham have scored more than Celtic or Chelsea. Blanco is rightly the hero of the day, with a great assist and sizzling goal. It's evident that the game means a lot to 'Temo. I'm reminded of what DeRosario said when his goal beat Chelsea in 2006, "I didn't get to go to the World Cup. This is my World Cup."
Blanco was left home by LaVolpe, didn't have a great experience abroad, is fighting for Eriksson to notice him - he's definitely motivated against a Premiership team.
Garber (I switched to ESPN) says the McBride situation has been resolved. As he says this, a streamer falls across his face. Funny. So much for his edict. Garber won't reveal where McBride is going (until the official announcement tomorrow), so perhaps that's why Rob Stone doesn't care about grabbing a streamer roll (it fell across his desk) and throwing it back where it came from. "Got him!" he exults, cutting off whatever Garber was trying to say about expansion. He then bumps to commercial as more streamers fly in across the frame. "You think it's funny, Toronto?" asks Stone.
I'll bet they do.
LD comes in for Blanco, crushing the Telefutura announcers who wanted them to play together. But then they get busy proclaiming Blanco the MVP already. Cooper is out for Angel, and Luis Boa Morte comes in for Etherington.
46 - LBM has already played in an MLS AllStar game, back as a member of Fulham. They lost.
48 - Becks sets up for a corner. Cleared for another deep throw. MLS retaining possession, but no dangerous chances yet.
49 - Angel called for offside, though he doesn't agree with it.
50 - I've switched to ESPN, and Cooper is being interviewed. he gives a careful answer about the possibility of a transfer and Harkes and JP are thereby convinced a deal is done.
52 - TFC fans chanting for Brennan. Bornstein gets a yellow for holding Faubert. Dangerous FK.
53 - Reis catches the deflection.
54 - Toja nearly through, but trips at the top of the box. West Ham counter, but an offside kills the attack.
56 - Donovan starts an attack and Bornstein sends in a sweet cross, but Angel doesn't quite make in front of the goal.
57 - LD gets a ball in the box, passes it back. Harkes cracks on him for that, saying he should shoot.
58 - Shalrie looses the ball in midfield, West Ham has numbers, but Reis blocks out Faubert's shot for a corner. The corner leads to another chance, Ashton cracking it to Reis, but it's offside. Reis blocked it anyway.
60 - Crowd goes wild for DeRo and Brennan, coming in now. They are both Toronto boys.
62 - ESPN with the interviews is killing me. West Ham just took another shot on goal while they're talking to Steve Nash. We already know he wants Vancouver to join the league.
63 - Becks sets up a FK - it misses, but not by much.
64 - Buddle is shown briefly on the bench, looking a bit forlorn.
65 - Collison comes in for West Ham.
67 - GOAL! Ashton takes a shot - a double deflection fools Matt Reis. It's not really deserved, as MLS was dominating the game, but they never put the match away and West Ham hung in there. 2-2.
69 - Angel fights for the ball, turns and knocks a pass to DeRo, he's fouled in the box! PK! DeRo is taking it.
70 - GOAL! He nails it, banging it in off the top of the crossbar. He's money in All-Star Games.
71 - No goal! Angel is pissed. It didn't look offside and Angel hit a great shot.
72 - MLS pressuring the goal now, but West Ham escape as the cross of Becks is cleared.
75 - Rob Stone looks terrified of that bird. the hawk used at games to keep away pesky seagulls. Stone's voice is shaking. Again, whenever ESPN does interviews, someone takes a shot on goal.
79 - MLS again has the better of play, but it hasn't led to a goal and West Ham could still nick a draw or better.
84 - Donovan in the box, interplay with Angel, but can't get a shot off.
86 - Donovan misses a Bornstein pass. Mastro fouls Parker at the arc - threatening FK here.
87 - The ball hits the wall, but it eventually gets to Boa Morte in the box - his header attempt is caught by Onstad. MLS just can't put this game away.
89 - Ralston and Buddle coming in now.
90 - Becks to Rally, who hits a nice cross, but West Ham clear. It leads to a West Ham counter, Boa Morte goes for the tough angle on his shot, but it crosses the front of goal and goes out.
90 + Four more minutes. Donovan cut down from behind. Becks sets up, but it's kind of far. DeRo takes it, it threatens, out for a corner.
That's cleared, now West Ham threatens but the MLS team finally brings the ball out of the back.
FK - MLS plays the ball around a bit.
Final whistle! MLS wins and keeps its perfect international record. Not bad of an All-Star game. No one got hurt and there were a couple of good goals. Becks seems enthusiastic about the match. "We've done well tonight."
His accent seems stronger - must be because of talking with the West Ham guys.
If Blanco isn't the MVP, I'll eat my hat. Course, I thought Schelotto would be here.
Nope, I'm right, Blanco gets the MVP. He thanks the fans. Becks and Landon congratulate him. The players exchange shirts.