Call it an exhibition, not important, and heck, even some have called it stupid, but any way you slice it, a team of All Stars from Major League Soccer defeated the reigning European champions, Chelsea FC, 3-2 on Wednesday night in front of an amazing crowd at PPL Park in Chester, PA.
Some of the brightest stars in MLS shone brightest on the night, with players like Chris Wondolowski, Chris Pontius, Thierry Henry, and others all contributing to what should be viewed as a nice little victory for the team on the night, and the league as a whole.
It was Chelsea getting the first few looks at net in the early going, once seeing Ashley Cole sky a shot over the bar and their first real chance coming in the 9th minute when they earned the first corner of the game, but the Blues' dangerous cross was cleared off the line.
Interestingly enough, after a rather bland opening 20 minutes, it was the MLS All Stars getting on the board first, when Thierry Henry found Chris Wondolowski in the box with a deft cross, and the San Jose Earthquakes striker beat John Terry to the ball and buried the opening goal.
The lead was short-lived, however, as John Terry quickly made amends in the 32nd minute with the equalizer, skying over the MLS defense, and heading home the cross.
The MLS All Stars would not be discouraged, however, and again it was Henry at the center of it all late in the first half, when his gorgeous chip beat everyone, except the post, and Chelsea escaped a near-miss.
The first half ended with few chances to truly speak of outside of the two goals, but with a glut of substitutions still to come in the second half, both sides knew the match was certainly still there for the taking.
The second half kicked off with both sides making several changes, and it was MLS on the front foot, resulting in a dangerous free kick opportunity for David Beckham, whose right-footed curling effort just clipped the Chelsea wall, and crossed harmlessly into touch.
Just before the 60-minute mark it was Frank Lampard playing the role of beneficiary, as he capitalized on a glaring goalkeeping mistake by newly-inserted Dan Kennedy, giving Chelsea the 2-1 advantage with nearly 30 minutes to play. The goal came after Kennedy misjudged the cross from the right flank, came off his line, and as the ball sailed over his head it was Lampard waiting, and powerfully finishing the chance, making the Stars pay.
After a few more substitutions by both sides, it was a new player that would find the equalizer for the Stars, as D.C. United midfielders Chris Pontius and Dwayne De Rosario connected. After a brilliant long ball from David Beckham, it was De Rosario patiently holding up play, and dropping off to Pontius, who beat the Chelsea keeper, and the match was tied in the 72nd minute.
The match looked set for a draw as both sides struggled to find the all-important winner, but Eddie Johnson had other ideas. After a controversial non-handball call in the MLS box denying a Chelsea penalty kick, the MLS Stars earned a goal kick, and in stoppage time, Kyle Beckerman sent a through ball to a streaking Johnson, whose shot was deflected off of a Chelsea defender, up into the air, over the keeper, and into the open net, giving MLS the winning goal in almost unbelievable fashion.
The win marked MLS' first victory since 2008 when the Stars beat West Ham United, as well as the second in a row over Chelsea FC. For his efforts in the match, including the equalizing goal in the 72nd minute, Chris Pontius was named match MVP.
MLS play resumes this weekend, and the European champions, Chelsea FC will head to Miami, where they will take on AC Milan on Saturday night.