New England Soccer Today

Donovan Lifts All-Stars to Victory

All-time leading goalscorer Landon Donovan tallied the game-winner in the 70th minute to give the MLS All-Stars a 2-1 comeback victory over German powerhouse Bayern Munich on Wednesday at Providence Park.

Yanks honored: As part of the pre-match festivities, players who represented the United States at the 2014 World Cup were presented with U.S. Soccer scarves. Of course, the MLS All-Star squad didn’t hold a complete monopoly of National Teamers, as Bayern’s Julian Green was also part of the ceremony.

Wunderkid enters early: Green made an early entrance to the game when he came on for Claudio Pizzaro in the 37th minute. He was warmly welcomed by chants of U-S-A. Six minutes later, he blasted a shot on Nick Rimando, who used his right foot to deny the teenager a goal on American turf.

Local talent takes stage: Cranston, R.I. native and Columbus Crew defender Michael Parkhurst was among the starters in Caleb Porter’s XI. He started at left back, and went 45 minutes before he was subbed off in favor of Liam Ridgewell at the start of the second half.

Dempsey back in midsummer classic: Clint Dempsey made his first All-Star appearance since 2005, when he represented the Revolution (along with Parkhurst, Shalrie Joseph, Taylor Twellman and Matt Reis) as part of the squad that faced Fulham at Crew Stadium. Dempsey was named to the 2006 roster, but was among three Revolution players who did not play after the team played Chivas USA the day before.

Critical moment: After goals from Robert Lewandowski and Bradley Wright-Phillips left the match level in the latter stages, it was Donovan who rose to the occasion in the 70th  minute. On a beautiful ball from Diego Valeri, the Galaxy playmaker not only got a hold of it, but also fought off defender Dante before depositing it into the back of the net to send the All-Stars on their way to victory. To no one’s surprise, Donovan was tabbed as the game’s MVP.

Back and forth: Lewandowski opened the scoring in the eighth minute seconds after he was initially denied by Rimando. The Bayern striker’s shot from the top of the area seemed to suggest that Wednesday’s match might turn into a defense-optional affair.

But the All-Stars acquitted themselves well in the wake of the early breach. They responded with chances of their own, a number coming from the Thierry Henry’s feet. In fact, Henry sent at least three crosses into the area that, with better positioning and finishing, could have put the league’s best even or over the German giants.

Eventually, the All-Stars broke through. In the 51st minute, Bradley Wright-Phillips unleashed a shot from the top of box after receiving a flick forward from Erick “Cubo” Torres.

Goalkeeper Bill Hamid preserved the win when he lowered the gate on a Juan Bernat point blank blast at the left stick in the 79th minute. The All-Stars held strong after Pep Guardiola sent Thomas Muller, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mario Gotze, Philip Lahm, and Arjen Robben into the match in the waning stages.

Post-match bitterness: Bayern coach Pep Guardiola shunned Porter after the match despite the Timbers’ intent to shake hands. Apparently, Guardiola took exception to a couple of rough challenges issued by Ozzie Alonso and Will Johnson late in the match.

New half, almost-new XI: Porter replaced his entire starting lineup for the second half, save for Thierry Henry, who remained on the pitch until the 48th minute, when he came off for Landon Donovan. The French International, who exited the pitch to plenty of applause from the Providence Park faithful.

Not Providence Park’s first rodeo: Wednesday’s match may have marked the first time that MLS hosted its midsummer classic in Portland, but the venue actually hosted another all-star game not long ago. In 2009, the stadium formerly known as PGE Park was the site of the Triple-A All-Star Game. At the time, the stadium served as dual host for the Timbers, who were playing in USL, and Minor League Baseball’s Portland Beavers, who moved to Tucson, Ariz. right before the Timbers kicked off their debut season in MLS in 2011.

Another midsummer classic, another win: The win improved the MLS All-Stars’ all-time record to 6-4 over international squads since the current format was introduced in 2005.

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