The packed house of 20,844 at BMO Field for the MLS All-Star Game caused
some consternation before kickoff when large sections booed and whistled during the U.S. national anthem, which followed hundreds of West Ham fans singing along lustily along to "God Save the
Queen." Many fans apparently believed the Canadian national anthem wouldn't be played, but of course it was.
After both teams filed onto the field and a large Canadian flag had been
unfurled, red-hatted Mounties saluted and the entire crowd sang along with Queen's Own Rifle 2nd Lt. Scott Mewlands
to "Oh, Canada." That set the mood for a
spirited beginning; it took the All-Stars some time to get in sync, yet they started with a quick tempo that forced West Ham into errors and turnovers.
The crowd celebrated the goals
by Christian Gomez
and Cuauhtemoc Blanco
, yet early in the second half began chanting "We Want Brennan," and were
rewarded when Toronto FC captain Jim Brennan
began warming up. All-Stars coach Steve Nicol
said prior to the game he
make his starting lineup and substitution selections based on competitive criteria, yet with a sense of drama as well as tactical acumen he sent on Brennan and DeRosario - both from the Ontario
province -- to a tremendous ovation in the 62nd minute.
Five minutes after they came on, Dean Ashton
tied the game. Less than two minutes
later, DeRosario glided through the penalty area with a through ball and a tiring Lucas Neill
DeRosario hammered the ball to
keeper Robert Green
's right as he went the wrong way and it slammed so hard against the underside of the bar it hit the bar again on the way up after landing
over the goal line. This game, and that kick, as well as the result, meant a great deal to him.
"I always wanted to play in my hometown in my home stadium especially in a game of this
magnitude," said DeRosario, who grew up just east of Toronto in Scarborough. "You have to realize how important this is for our league."
Brennan owns a condo a mile or so from BMO
Field and admitted hearing the fans chant his name unleashed some feelings.
"It was great because all of my friends and family were here and obviously there are the fans that see me
play week-in and week-out, so I mean it was a special moment for me, definitely," he said. "It was amazing, it's hard to describe. You know you're sitting on the bench having the fans scream for
you to come on, you know, like I said, it's something I'll always remember."