SOCCER

MLS Stars Top West Ham United

Thanks to the work of Cuauhtémoc Blanco, the MLS all-stars remain unbeaten in five years against foreign opponents.
Thanks to the work of Cuauhtémoc Blanco, the MLS all-stars remain unbeaten in five years against foreign opponents. (Geoff Robins - Getty Images)

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Chicago midfielder Cuauhtémoc Blanco scored one goal and helped set up another, and Houston midfielder Dwayne DeRosario snapped a tie with a penalty kick to give the MLS All-Stars a 3-2 victory over English Premier League team West Ham United last night in Toronto.

The MLS all-stars are unbeaten in five years against foreign opponents. Blanco was chosen as the game's most valuable player.

"The MLS players showed we have good players in our league, not only good players but great players," New England Coach Steve Nicol said.

Forward Dean Ashton scored both goals for West Ham, which beat MLS's Columbus Crew, 3-1, in an exhibition match on Sunday that was marred by a scuffle involving fans of both teams.

Los Angeles midfielder David Beckham played the entire game and earned an assist in his first MLS all-star appearance. Beckham came close to scoring in the 40th minute, but his low free kick was headed away by West Ham defender Calum Davenport.

The England international had two more opportunities early in the second half, running on to a loose ball inside the 18-yard box but shooting high and just wide. He missed wide again on a free kick minutes later.

West Ham opened the scoring in the 26th minute when Carlton Cole's header sent Ashton in alone on goal. Ashton, who made his international debut for England last month, coolly fired a low shot past New England goalkeeper Matt Reis and into the bottom corner.

The lead was short-lived, as Beckham and Blanco teamed up to help the MLS all-stars tie it one minute later. Blanco's clever back-heel on Beckham's pass from midfield sent Colorado midfielder Christian Gómez into the 18-yard box, and he scored with a low shot under West Ham goalkeeper Robert Green.

Blanco put the MLS all-stars in front 2-1 with a brilliant goal just before halftime. Dallas midfielder Juan Toja slid a short pass to Blanco, who eluded Scott Parker and curled a shot into a far corner, beyond Green's outstretched arms.

Ashton tied it at 2-2 in the 68th minute when his long shot deflected off Kansas City defender Jimmy Conrad and past Reis.

Again, the MLS wasted little time in replying. Referee Mauricio Navarro pointed to the penalty spot after Lucas Neill brought down DeRosario inside the penalty box. With the record crowd of 20,844 roaring for the Toronto native, DeRosario blasted his shot off the underside of the crossbar. The ball then took a fortunate bounce into the back of the net.

"A game like this in my home town, I can't ask for anything more, especially to have an opportunity to have an impact in the game," DeRosario said. "For me, it's a dream come true."

-- From News Services


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