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MLS All-Star Game Defies Tradition
MLSnet.com , July 30th, 2009 3PM

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In theory, All-Star games are supposed to be exhibitions of flair, talent and goals. But that's not the way Wednesday night's game played out between the MLS All-Stars and Everton FC. "This was a real game," the Los Angeles Galaxy's Landon Donovan said. "You could tell by the way they were playing. There were a couple of hard tackles in the first couple of minutes. ... I'd rather it be that than a game where people are walking around, trying back heels and bicycle kicks. That was a real soccer game, and it was fun." Instead of an open, run-and-gun affair, the two teams played 90 intense and cagey minutes. They combined for 34 fouls. And a visiting Everton amassed only six shots.

Nerves seemed to affect the All-Stars' performance. Only two of the MLS starters had taken part in the All-Star environment previously. And the MLS side got off to a shaky start. "It took us a little while to get going," All-Star coach Dominic Kinnear said. "The first 10 or 15 minutes we looked a bit nervous. But then I thought after we scored we did some good stuff and as the game wore on we created some good chances."

Midfielder Stuart Holden made up for an early blunder, in which he handed Everton its first goal by giving the ball away in the back, by combining more and more fluidly as the game wore on. His flick earned the assist in Brad Davis' equalizer. After tying the game, the All-Stars pushed forward with more confidence. Donovan's introduction in the second half injected more life into the offense and helped create a number of good scoring opportunities. But the Everton goalkeeper, American Tim Howard, was up the challenge. He rescued the Merseysiders with bright saves on Conor Casey, Montero, Landon Donovan and Davy Arnaud, as the MLS side pressed the weary visitors. Everton won a PK shootout after regulation play ended 1-1.

 

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