Thursday, July 24, 2008

All-Star Game running blog

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.
Kickoff!
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.

22 comments:

L.B. said...

MLS 2, West Ham 0. Goals by Blanco and Angel.

CACuzcatlan said...

Thanks for the running blog. The only way I'll be able to follow while I'm at work here on the west coast.

East River said...

I really think Cooper should not sign with Rosenburg as he can do a lot better than that. He should wait for a good offer from a better league. Same goes for Buddle. Besides selling teams Scandanavin(sp) teams is not the kind of seller league we want to be.

East River said...

I actually like Estalle on record but her live performance just now for halftime was so disappointing. It would have help if she was switched up the song to say "Canadian Boy" instead singing American Boy. Telefutra didn't bother showing just gave her about 5 seconds then cut back to commericals and news bulletins.

East River said...

Steve Nash just interviewed on the same lines with Telefutra. You never know who is can speak spanish these days. Dude was pretty fluent.

East River said...

Hey AC, Telefutra isn't holding back on the interview either. So far they have interview Blanco, Gomez, and Steve Nash. GOAL!!! that Ashton guy is pretty good!

East River said...

Telefutra replays show Angel was certainly not offsides. MLS is bringing its fun stuff to watch.

East River said...

ESPN must have told MLS and Nicol they couldn't sub Becks until the 80th minute. As it doesn't make sense why he is still out there.

East River said...

If Conrad does not get a red card he just may kill Boa Morte:-) Suprised Nicol waited so long to sub so many players.

CACuzcatlan said...

Sounds like it was a really exciting game. Too bad I'm still at work. I'll have to catch the highlights on the Fox Soccer Report or on SportsCenter (hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!) I mean on MLSnet. We know that they will only show a 2 second clip on SportsCenter since Beckham didn't score. Though from the description of that Blanco goal, I wouldn't be surprised to see it in the top 10 plays.

East River said...

Thanks AC for the running comments. Blanco's assist to Gomez was as sweet as the goal Blanco scored. Then ESPN couldn't help but to ask Blanco "how was it like to play with Beckham?" Stone just totally fixates on that guy.

L.B. said...

cacuzcatlan, I had to sit through the entire SportsCenter leading up to the game. Now mind you, the show started at 3 with the game following immediately at 4. They didn't mention the game once until about 3:50 when they showed Beckham warming up and said something like "We'll send it out to Toronto once this is over for the MLS All-Star game" or some crap like that. Totally lame.

And yeah East River, that question Stone threw at Blanco about playing with Beckham, I almost wanted Blanco to say something like "It must have been fun for Beckham to play with me." Lame question too.

CACuzcatlan said...

Figures, but its not unheard of for SportsCenter to have soccer in their top 10 plays. Two instances I can recall off the top of my head are Klein's goal in the SuperLiga final and Twellman's bicycle kick in the Eastern Conference finals, both in 2007. Both were #1. There were also some goals in the top 10 during Euro 2008

L.B. said...

I just found it strange that they didn't even mention the game they were leading into at the top of the hour save for a 10-second snippet.

I guess I'll have to take your word for the top plays since I hardly ever watch sportscenter anymore.

CACuzcatlan said...

Blanco's goal was #7 on SportsCenter's top 10 plays. It wouldn't be ESPN if they didn't mess it up though. I'm pretty sure the guy said "The ML All-Stars" instead of "The MLS..."

East River said...

A huge challenge to MLS that doesn't get hit on enough is changing that the regular media guy's attitude toward soccer. I really am that toward the ESPN SportsCenter and you local news sports anchor. When MLS can get these guys to discuss aspects of the a team's season or the league it has made a huge step. Especially if they can get the Sunday night weekly local sports show host to discuss the local MLS team's season.

Beax Speax said...

Fun game.

My favorite of the broadcast happened off the field. They went to Rob Stone who checking out the food at BMO. ESPN went back to the game and Harkes said something like "The Stoner likes to eat."

L.B. said...

east river, you're pretty much right on.

Jesse Marsch once told me that he thinks when 18-34 year old white males pays attention to MLS, the league will really take off.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Rob Stone was the highlight for me. He loves soccer, simply put.

Maybe it's me, but I think it was a total disrespect to Landon Donovan that he didn't get to start. He was the leading overall vote-getter, he's the leading league MVP candidate, he's the leading goal-scorer (12 goals/7 assists in 14 games!)....and he doesn't get a start?

I don't care about game plan, game strategy...it's an All Star game. And like starting LD would make the All Stars lose? Not to mention, ESPN lead the show, basically, with Donovan...highlighting his goals, declaring him MVP of the first half of the league. And then he doesn't start? Poor choice by Nicol.

I too would have loved to have seen Landon and Blanco playing together. (wish I would have seen their intro on Telefutura)

East River said...

As to the anon that posted at 7:37. I think LD not getting the start was political as DC's Jaime Moreno said the All-Star stuff is mostly political. Is it not a suprise that two players very much on the selling block (Cooper and Toja) were both started? MLS wants the Galaxy to do well and having Donovan on display for teams to come trying to get him to leave the league does not serve the interest of the single entity that is MLS or their sub company the Galaxy.

As to LB's point. I think the league has got the interest from the 18-34 crowd put is just to stupid to hit the button. And they are too stuck on marketing to soccer moms who don't show up if its too hot or too cool or its Mother Day or whatever. Instead of marketing to the 18-34 year old crowd. Two years ESPN Soccernet was publishing articles on how ACC school were turning out 8,000 students for their college soccer games. Rather it was Clemson or Duke vs. Univ N. Carolina or whoever. In other words school college soccer games can turnout more people then a home game for the Redbulls or Wizards or Dallas. It shows that 18 year old males will come out and watch soccer even if its not of the highest quality if rivalry is involved. Look at the age groups involved with the Galaxy, DC, Toronto, and Houston I suspect those fans are mostly somewhere between 18-45, the interest is there when MLS teams get away from marketing heavyily to kids and tap into the people young and really enjoy watching soccer.

But my post was more aimed at the need to change the mind of the "old school" sportwriter who just doesn't get soccer. In NY sports is all about the Knicks, the Rangers, the Jets, the Giants, the Yankees, and the Mets. Or you have ESPN and the local sports writer who can only think about "can soccer succeded in America?" I'm saying until the guys in the sport writing newsroom get younger and have different interest MLS will have a hard time winning the public over. Right now the people presenting the highlights are just anti-soccer. But the numbers from younger demos show that interest is there from the WC06 to the Euro 08 but highlight presenters have to accept that reality.

L.B. said...

Definitely the way you get rid of that is you get rid of the writer. A lot of those writers are old and crusty and not very open minded. Gotta flush that out of the system and get some new, more open-minded blood in there.

East River said...

Hey LB, thought you would get a kick out this story. I walking in my grocey store today just a few hours ago and a stock guy (latino guy) walks past me and says "you like DC United!" (I was wearing a DCU jersey). Next thing you know we are talking Superliga and Apentura 08 starting today. Thats the second time this year that some one recognized that I wearing a DCU jersey here in NYC. But the first time a Latino person called it. I just thought to myself "I guess MLS/SUM's Superliga strategy is really working. We are finally starting to get through to that elusive Latino market" Gradually over time people are starting to notice and eventually this league will be accepted.