WASHINGTON, D.C. (Saturday, August 3, 2002) - The United States Men's National Team performed well under adverse conditions, but could not stop the MLS All-Stars in the 2002 MLS All-Star Game Saturday afternoon at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. After a scoreless first half marred by a severe weather delay, the midsummer showcase erupted in a five-goal outburst that saw the MLS All-Stars grab a 3-2 victory over the U.S. National Team.
D.C. United midfielder and Bolivian legend Marco Etcheverry was named the All-Star MVP, sparking an impressive showing that defied the stereotypes of "soft" All-Star exhibitions.
New England midfielder Steve Ralston notched the game-winner in the 81st minute, slipping a sharp-angled shot past U.S. goalkeeper and Revolution teammate Juergen Sommer.
The action kicked off early as the two sides immediately hit the field at a blistering rate. The early going was marked by end-to-end action, intense pressure on the ball, and a ruggedness of play that is seldom seen in midseason exhibitions.
Columbus' Brian Maisonneuve sparked the crowd in the fourth minute, connecting on a diving header inside the MLS penalty area. MetroStars goalkeeper Tim Howard positioned himself well for the shot, however, and easily made the save.
Kansas City midfielder Preki made MLS All-Star Game history again, starting in his seventh consecutive summer showcase. Preki started the game trailing only the Crew's Brian McBride for the All-Star scoring lead, and earned MVP honors at the 1999 game in San Diego.
In the thirteenth minute of play, the skies opened up, dousing the players and fans as lighting and thunder complemented the horns and drums in the stands.
Colorado Rapids midfielder Mark Chung offered the first dangerous chance for the MLS side, unleashing a 30-yard rocket that forced a sprawling save from Tony Meola.
Minutes later, the rolling storm forced a break in the action as referee Brian Hall called a halt to the game. The deluge kept the 31,096 fans in attendance huddled underneath the cover of RFK's second tier, as the field itself was lost in the swirling mist of the sudden torrent. After a 58-minute delay, the two teams took to the field again to finish the contest. The rain-soaked fields did not put a damper on the pace of the game, as players continued to attack at full speed.
Opening the second half, San Jose attacker Ariel Graziani and the MLS All-Stars pressed forward furiously, looking to end the longest scoreless run in any MLS All-Star game. Kansas City's Chris Klein formed a perfect complement to Graziani's full-tilt attacking game, hustling down the flanks to serve the ball into the box.
San Jose goalkeeper Joe Cannon was tested in the 51st minute, parrying away a point-blank attempt from Earthquakes teammate Landon Donovan, who broke free inside the area to tee up the shot.
Brian McBride and the U.S. team tore through the MLS defense in the 56th, playing a tight passing game to spring the Crew forward. McBride beat Cannon with the sharp angled ball, only to see his attempt hit the inside of the far post, giving the MLS defense the opportunity to regroup and clear the ball from danger.
The U.S. broke the deadlock in the 58th minute, as Chris Henderson turned a potentially broken play into a Donovan goal. DaMarcus Beasley's pass wide to Henderson on the left flank sped forward on the slick grass, but Henderson slid to chop the ball back toward the center of the box. Donovan ran onto the cross, spiking it past a helpless Cannon for the 1-0 lead.
The U.S. celebration was short-lived, however, as the MLS All-Stars stormed back to score the equalizer a minute later. Chris Klein's dogged pressure in the attacking third of the field forced a turnover deep inside U.S. territory. Klein sent the ball to the center of the box for Dallas' Jason Kreis, who fired a sharp shot on `keeper Juergen Sommer. Sommer seemed to have made the initial save, but the ball slipped from between his hands and into the net to knot the game at 1-1.
MLS took the 2-1 lead in the 72nd minute as two Bolivian artists connected to score. Taking the pass from San Jose's Wade Barrett, Dallas Burn midfielder Joselito Vaca sent a perfectly timed ball over the top to D.C. hero Marco Etcheverry. The crafty Etcheverry calmly waited for Sommer to make the first move before chipping a left-footed shot just out of reach of the sprawling Revolution `keeper.
Galaxy midfielder Cobi Jones finally capitalized on the space allowed by the MLS squad's three-man back line. Given plenty of space on the flank all night, Jones slipped behind the defenders to get on the end of a Brian McBride pass from the top of the box. Redirecting the low ball past Cannon, Jones tucked away the equalizer in the 76th minute of play.
New England midfielder Steve Ralston put the MLS side back on top for good in the 81st minute, slipping the ball past Sommer for the 3-2 lead. Klein's hard work along the right side again worked the ball into scoring position, slipping the ball through Kreis to a sneaking Ralston on the back post. With Sommer recovering from his initial reaction, Ralston hit the sharp-angled shot off the inside of the opposite post.
MLS clubs return to league play on Saturday, August 10th, as eight of the ten squads hit the field. MLS' Soccer Saturday programming as the infamous Chicago-Dallas rivalry is showcased live on ESPN2 at 4:00 p.m. ET. The "Brimstone Cup" series advances to the second stage, as the hottest rivalry in U.S. soccer heats up.