Featured / MLS

5 thoughts on the All-Star Game

Photo: Earl Gardner

Five thoughts on Wednesday’s All-Star Game at PPL Park:

MLS players impress

Pennsylvania native Ben Olsen approached his job coaching the MLS All-Star team as though he really wanted to win the game, even if it was just a preseason friendly for Chelsea. Dwayne De Rosario played the entire game and was top shelf, connecting beautifully with D.C. United teammate Chris Pontius on more than one occasion, including Pontius’ goal.

Pontius, Jay DeMerit, Osvaldo Alonso, David Beckham and Chris Wondolowski put in shifts that definitely drew notice. Pontius and Alonso probably put themselves in the European shop window with great performances. DeMerit is healthy again, and his near-dominant 90-minute run looked like a message to Jurgen Klinsmann that he can still play at a top level. And Beckham showed the world he can still play, with his beautifully lofted pass to set up the Pontius goal a highlight of the night.

Yes, the MLS squad got away with two late non-calls on DeMerit and Steven Beitashour that could have put Chelsea up a goal late, but then, John Terry got away with pushing off Aurelien Colin to get clear for his first half goal. In the end, a lucky deflection won the game. That’s just the way it breaks sometimes. Sometimes it even breaks your way.

The pageantry at PPL Park

Were you impressed with the pregame pageantry? This looked big time, everything from the flags of individual MLS clubs to the “All-Star” sign in the stands held up by hundreds of fans. Credit to MLS and Philadelphia Union.

And then, of course, PPL Park itself. The stadium just oozed class — world class, to be specific. There likely isn’t a venue of its size as good anywhere in the world. Sure, some have more tradition and maybe more character derived from longer histories. But the views, the field, the stands, the sellout crowd — outsiders had to be impressed.

Chris Wondolowski can score anywhere

Wondo just scores. It’s as simple as that. He can score anywhere, as he showed Wednesday night with his first half goal against Chelsea. He finds the spots, puts himself in great positions, and finishes. If he doesn’t get a legitimate extended stint with the US national team, then Klinsmann will be making a mistake.

Many view 31 years old (Wondo’s age in 2014) as old for soccer players, but they’re wrong when it comes to many American players. The development arc is different. Many Americans don’t play as much as Europeans in their teens and college years, which slows their development but also puts less wear on the tires than those who turn pro at 17 or 18. That’s why players like Clint Dempsey, Brad Davis, Herculez Gomez, Wondolowski and others are peaking around 30, an age at which many European and South American players are on the clear decline.

ESPN’s smart lead-in

Whoever thought of pitting AS Roma against Liverpool at Fenway Park on ESPN2 just before the All-Star game should be handed a medal. Great move. The TV viewership numbers aren’t out yet as I write this, but ESPN viewers were treated to a good game featuring one of the world’s best American players, Michael Bradley, playing well and scoring a goal. It set the table nicely for the All-Star Game, which immediately followed the Fenway game’s conclusion.

One of the highest rated MLS games this season was the Portland-Seattle match that followed the Italy-England match in the Euros. These big international matches can increase exposure to MLS games when they’re televised in proximity to each other.

Union players hold their own

Carlos Valdes and Michael Farfan both got time on field. Farfan came in as the final MLS sub and didn’t get time to show much, but he quietly did well, completing every pass he attempted. There will be more All-Star games to come for him.

Valdes, on the other hand, saw more time due to Aurelien Colin’s injury, and he was all over the place, in good and bad ways. He found himself in no man’s land for Chelsea’s second goal, though goalkeeper Dan Kennedy was more to blame for that. Valdes also gave up a ball deep in his own half that put Chelsea in for a dangerous attack on goal. But he also made some nice defensive stops and adjusted well after entering the match with minimal warmup. On the whole, Valdes fared well against some high level competition.

 

5 Comments

  1. This was easily one of the most impressive shows Ive seen at PPL. It felt like a big time event. Im so happy this didnt go to the Linc.

    The opening, the fireworks, the play…the win! We had a blast and for us as STH at PPL park it gave us a much needed boost. It was electric.

    PPL was beautiful last night and I hope that all the Blues and Casuals that showed up saw that the MLS and PPL have somthing to offer. DOOP!

  2. Just a great night all around. Plus Nowak never even entered my mind once. I know I’m just a Union fan and it make no sense but the overwhelming feeling I had last night was pride.

  3. Great night indeed! Can not believe they held it at PPL but showed that these specific soccer stadiums need to be build bigger, or need to expand (as they most likely will). Also enjoyed the FanFest before the game, and only realized later, when we left, that an enormous VIP tent had been set up next to the FanFest. With all the Chelsea activities it was all around just an amazing few days!

  4. James "4-3-3" Forever says:

    I was hoping MArfan would have had a chance to show off his dribbling and run at people. It seemed like he had the chance once or twice, but was trying really hard to play with one touch passing.

  5. Pingback: Ben Olsen: Swagger and redemption

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*