MLS / Union

Le Toux, MLS All-Stars Stymied As Man U Rolls 5-2

Despite an admitted willingness to follow the Union’s 1-0 loss to Manchester United by putting one away against them in the Allstar game, Sebastien Le Toux was grounded in the 45 first half minutes of action he saw last night.

With Juan Pablo Angel (New York Red Bulls) slotted up top as the lone striker, Le Toux was penciled in at left outside mid, paired up at central with Javier Morales (Real Salt Lake). A bit odd given what we’re used to seeing, but certainly a concession to the nature of the match. Bruce Arena’s selection was made a bit easier by the fact that leading MLS goalscorer Edson Buddle and teammate Landon Donovan (subbed in at the 74th minute) played the night before in a CONCACAF Champions League match (a 4-1 loss to Puerto Rico City Islanders).

[United’s] young and future stars put on a dazzling display from the start with Federico Macheda poaching two in under 13 minutes.

Morales, the key for any push by the MLS Allstars, showed more of a willingness to work the ball forward to Marco Pappa (Chicago Fire) who would then seek out Angel.  The Real Salt Lake man did, however, shift the ball back to Le Toux in the 21st minute, following a deep run towards the left flag. Sending the ball further back as the Allstars held possession, Le Toux would receive again to lead a ball with the softest of touches to a teammate at the top of the box, who unfortunately couldn’t manage a shot.

Sadly, that would be one of the best efforts displayed by the Union’s chief danger man, as well as one of the few times the MLS All-Stars threatened in the first half, with the only serious threat in the first 45 minutes seeming to come off Chad Marshall’s (Columbus Crew) head. He’d come close again through the air in the second half.

Le Toux was stymied by a combination of Wes Brown and Rafael…[with Brown] marking him off passes to the top of the box on two different occasions.

Quite the opposite for United, whose young and future stars put on a dazzling display from the start with Federico Macheda poaching two in under 13 minutes. His first came in the opening 23 seconds of the match following a horrid mistake by defender Shalrie Joseph of the New England Revolution; in the 13th he rose unmarked to emphatically bury a corner. Replays appeared to show that Le Toux was supposed to be marking him.

As the half wore on, Le Toux began to push more into his traditional striking role, albeit checking back at times. The industry of a United team motivated by their recent loss to Kansas City, however, proved too much for any serious threat. As was the case throughout the first, Le Toux was stymied by a combination of Wes Brown and Rafael in the 38th as he ran to the endline towards the ball. Brown expertly shielded Le Toux off the ball while Rafael hovered in support.

Brown proved far too physical for Le Toux, marking him off passes to the top of the box on two different occasions, with the United defender readily clearing the ball out of harms way. Incursions down the left wing were made all the more difficult by Nani’s willingness, despite a nagging injury that saw him sub out early, to check back with alacrity.

Northeast Philly native Bobby Convey (San Jose Earthquakes) subbed in for Le Toux at the start of the second half, which was at least much more competitive than the first. The chances were definitely there for the MLS side, but too many times the ball was sent directly at Edwin Van der Sar or off the woodwork.

Two quick goals by United negated a brilliant aerial display by substitute Brian Ching, who headed home inside the left post. Darron Gibson dropped a beautiful free kick into the upper left corner in the 70th, while reserves graduate Thomas Cleverley followed a brilliant pop-up over a would be defender by slotting to the left of the keeper.

United subs continued to do damage, as Javier Hernandez—Chicharito—struck home from the top of the box with a ball so well placed it spoke volumes of his potential and the onrushing keeper’s chagrin.

…the throwing together of stars posed a gross disadvantage as they ran up against a Manchester side with chemistry, poise, and star power on full display.

A recently entered Landon Donovan (L.A. Galaxy) could only look on in disgust. On in the 74th, his entry was already too late to provide anything resembling a spark. It was more towards respectability that the All-Stars would push in the late minutes, following their harrying of United upon a 90th minute Dwayne De Rosario (Toronto FC) schooling of Wes Brown—outside to inside—that led to an easy tally.

Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo) had a solid chance late following a brilliant feed into the box, but he shot directly into the keeper. He followed in the closing seconds by putting a free-kick off the post from distance. The All-Stars continued to press, but it was unfortunate the needed industry and poise in the attacking third came as the clock was winding down.

Still, 70,000 for a soccer match involving MLS—with the attendance no doubt helped by Chicharito’s presence—against anyone can hardly be scoffed at, even though for the first time in the history of the annual affair the throwing together of stars posed a gross disadvantage as they ran up against a Manchester side with chemistry, poise, and star power on full display.

Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Union.

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