Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
Chelsea stunned by hungrier, fitter All-Stars
August 6th, 2006 1:38AM
Subscribe to Soccer America Confidential

MOST READ

MOST COMMENTED

Jimmy Conraddoesn't think beating Chelsea will escalate the image of American soccer one iota outside America.

And careth he doesn't. He'd like to impress a certain segment of fans at home.

"More than anything, it's about winning over the American fan who's the World Cup fan," said Conrad, who mixed it up a few times with striker Didier Drogbain a spirited first-half battle and incurred a few wounds on the back of his leg.

"I think games like this show that the perceived gap between MLS or American soccer and European soccer is closing. We have players that can compete."

On two days of training and with clearcut directives from D.C. coach Peter Nowak,the MLS All-Stars exploited their superior fitness and ferocity to knock off the two-time defending English Premier League champion Chelsea, 1-0, on a spectacular goal by the master of the memorable, Dwayne DeRosario.

His rocket into the top corner from the edge of the penalty area in the 70th minute came somewhat unexpectedly, yet encapsulated a shift in momentum as the underdogs took the measure of their glamorous foes and eventually surpassed them. At the final whistle, the All-Stars embraced, shook their fists at the crowd, and celebrated like the game actually meant something.

To them, it did. Nowak had made it clear from the MLS perspective, at least, this game mattered.

"When we first got into Chicago, he just asked us to treat this like business and not a vacation," said defender Bobby Boswell,one of eight D.C. United players named to the team, six of whom started. "I think you saw the result tonight that we took it pretty seriously. We wanted a result and that's what we got. We realized at the end of the game we beat one of the better teams in the world and we were happy about that."

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinhohad hoped he could get a strong 45 minutes out of most of his players, but several of them fell far short of attaining that level. Andriy Shevchenko,with just seven training sessions with the club since the World Cup, labored futilely; Frank Lampardand Michael Ballackwere scarcely better, and the halftime inclusion of Joe Colenetted only a few minutes before he hobbled off with a knee injury.

"They were sharp, they were fit," said Mourinho, whose team trained for a week in Los Angeles before coming to Chicago. "The difference in quality, because we have more quality, was compensated by their condition. Their condition is much better than us. "But they play well. They played with a lot of motivation. They were playing not for the show, they were playing not to help Chelsea in preparation, they were playing for a result."

Defender John Terrywent the full 90 and bailed out his team several times with critical clearances inside his own goal area. Chelsea protested a disallowed goal by the crunching Drogba, and was denied on a Lampard free kick when Troy Perkinssnagged the shot a foot in front of the post.

Aside from a late flurry that produced two dramatic saves by Joe Cannon,the nearest Chelsea came to scoring in the second half was when defender Facundo Erpenput the ball through Cannon's legs and nearly over the goal line early in the second half.

Houston defender Eddie Robinson,who had replaced Conrad at halftime, raced back to sweep the ball off the goalline with a desperate slide.

"In that situation I'm always trying to make sure I'm behind him, just in case something like that does happen," said Robinson, who once backed up Cannon in San Jose. "I didn't think I was going to get to it, I was sure I was just going to pound it into the side netting. But I just got to it. Whew! Then we got on with the second half and I think we made a good transition with as many subs as we made at halftime."

Two teams on vastly different talent levels and conditioning curves generated an even first half of sometimes crisp, more often listless, sequences that gave away to a edgier, livelier second half despite, or perhaps because of, extensive substitutions by both teams at halftime.

The combination play of D.C. United's Jaime Morenoand Christian Gomezseldom carved clearcut openings, and Houston teammates Brian Chingand DeRosario rarely clicked as well. But there were openings in the Chelsea defense. Chris Albright,playing right mid in a 3-5-2 formation, delivered a few dangerous crosses, and knifed inside to spin a low shot just past the post. the ball Nowak made seven changes at halftime, Chelsea six, and within a few minutes, Cole had hobbled off with a knee injury, Robinson had cleared off the line, and Freddy Aduhad burst past fellow Ghanaian Michael Essiento force a corner kick.

"It was a huge help for us guys who came in the second half to watch the first half and see, you know what?, the guys are doing all right out there," said Robinson. "So that gave us a little confidence and also a little extra push, as if we needed some, to not let those guys down. Let's continue this. :Let's not give anything up."

Uupon entering the game after halftime, Alecko Eskandarian, Nate Jaquaand Ronnie O'Briencharged into the attacking third every chance they got, and shots began to buzz the Chelsea goal.

"We compete against each other, but you could see this was a team on the field," said Nowak. "My props to these boys because of the game they play. We had a couple chances, they had a couple chances but Dwayne scored a great goal and we got the win."

DeRosario struck after taking a throw-in from O'Brien on the right side and turning at the edge of the box to blast his shot past keeper Hilario,a summer signing making his first appearance for Chelsea. DeRosario's jinking runs and mazy dribbles had already alarmed the English club on a few occasions but it didn't heed the warnings and let the man who moves like a marionette steal the show.

"People probably thought we were going to go out there and get spanked," said DeRosario, a Canadian international who said this game was his World Cup. "We showed them the caliber of soccer we have in America for those who really don't know the MLS. Maybe they watch it on TV and realize what kind of great stars we have, all of us."

The All-Stars defense buckled a few times in the second half, but Cannon stood his ground to block a point-blank. shot from Terry, of all people, on a long ball that had eluded Boswell, and snuffed Ricardo Carvalhofrom a tight angle on a corner kick that reached him at the far post in stoppage time.

At the final whistle, Cannon hugged United colleague Perkins mightily. A shutout of Chelsea, albeit in its preseason, is still worth relishing.

"I'm excited for Troy, for MLS, for the coaching staff, for everybody involved in this game," said Cannon "You'll never forget it for the rest of your life."


No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Confidential
Schmid departure starts to clear Sounders' deck for Lagerwey    
Eighteen months after joining the Sounders as president of soccer and general manager, Garth Lagerwey is ...
Toronto FC must rebound after embarrassing defeat for crucial home stand    
After an eight-game road trip to open the season, Toronto FC is in a playoff spot ...
Quakes need to build on stunning victory    
Every struggling team looks for a spark, a turning point, a shift of fortune that transforms ...
MLS Midseason Awards: Villa and the other Kamara are among the leaders    
The six major categories of awards presented each season by MLS run the gamut of experience, ...
Are U.S. women ready for another union fight?    
This should have been a good week for the National Women's Soccer League.
Heath departure mirrors volatile history of MLS expansion teams    
Popular with fans and press and successful in the USL, former Orlando City head coach Adrian ...
SA's MLS Midseason Best XI    
A midseason Best XI gives an idea of which players have most influenced their team's success ...
Projecting U.S. roster for September qualifiers -- five changes in 23    
Three group matches and three knockout games in the Copa America Centenario affected the status of ...
Soccer America's Copa Centenario Best XI    
They went undefeated except against each other, so it's natural that players from champion Chile and ...
Is Klinsmann worthy of a remarkably long tenure?    
Next month marks the fifth anniversary of Jurgen Klinsmann's tenure as USA head coach.
>> Soccer America Confidential Archives