10:39 am Jul. 26, 20121
Wednesday night's Major League Soccer All-Star Game was just the sort of thing the league needed.
There was the result on the field: a 3-2 victory over Chelsea, the team that just won the U.E.F.A. Champions League.
No, the victory doesn't count for anything. But for a league still anxious to gain credibility with the world and the American public—many of whom, by the league's own admission, watch soccer but not M.L.S.—it matters. And lopsided losses by the M.L.S. All Stars, like the 4-0 defeat to Manchester United last year, can reinforce the notion that the American league is, well, minor.
The game itself provided plenty of drama. The first goal, a beautiful finish from Chris Wondolowski set up by a perfect cross from Thierry Henry, put the M.L.S. team ahead, 1-0. Chelsea battled back to take the lead early in the second half on a goal from Frank Lampard.
Then the D.C. United teammates, Dwayne De Rosario (last season's M.V.P.) and Chris Pontius, combined on a give-and-go set up by a David Beckham signature long pass. And in stoppage time, Eddie Johnson launched a deflected shot that landed in the Chelsea goal to give M.L.S. a dramatic victory.
Even the way they won made the case for the emerging American game: The well-established European imports played supporting roles, while American-born players scored the goals. This wasn't simply Beckham and Henry carrying the rest.
The game itself was a sellout at Philadelphia's P.P.L. Park, the second consecutive year that a fully stocked, soccer-specific stadium hosted the league's marquee event. The fact this is the marquee event, while M.L.S. Cup tends to fly under the radar, is another problem for another day.
Tim Cahill, the latest high-profile player to join M.L.S. via the New York Red Bulls, was in attendance. If he can lead the league's biggest-market franchise to unprecedented on-field success, this year could turn out to be kind of a big one for a league that has yet to earn the kind of attention and respect it has always aspired to.
Elsewhere in New York sports:
Another day, another victory for the Yankees, 5-2 over Seattle. It looks like they'll get Nick Swisher back as soon as Friday, and no later than Saturday. And Joba Chamberlain pitched in back-to-back days in rehab; if he has no ill effects from it, he should be back shortly as well.
After missing out on Andrei Kirilenko, the Nets are about done.
Jeff Otah failed his physical, so Wayne Hunter is safe for now.