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The MLS All-Star Game has taken many forms through the years – for several seasons it bounced between a standard “East vs. West” format and several interesting twists – in 1998 it was U.S. MLS stars vs. MLS players from the rest of the world, in 2002 the MLS All-Stars took on the U.S. national team, and the following year the MLS side took on Mexican club Guadalajara. It was the latter format that eventually won out – in every year since 2005, the MLS All-Stars have faced an international club, winning in five of those eight games, including a 3-2 triumph over Chelsea last year. This season the opponent is A.S. Roma, and to get you ready for the game, we decided to look back at some of the best moments from games past. Relive it all below, and tune into this year’s All-Star Game on Wednesday, July 31 at 9 p.m. ET, on ESPN2.
6) 2008: Hometown Hero Dwayne De Rosario Wins It In Toronto: This was the first (and, to date, only) All-Star Game to take place in Canada, so it’s only fitting that one of Canada’s most decorated players – De Rosario is the top scorer in Canadian national Team history, and won MLS MVP honors in 2011 – would provide the winner. And the midfielder did just that, putting a penalty kick past West Ham United keeper Robert Green in the 70th minute to give the MLS stars a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. The 3-2 win marked MLS’s fourth straight All-Star win over European competition.
5) 2010: MLS Takes On Man U In Front Of 70,000 Fans: OK, so the game didn’t exactly go the MLS’s way: Manchester United rolled to a 5-2 win, with the last goal coming from Chicharito, who was making his debut with the team. Still, from the standpoint of luring in not only England’s signature club, but a crowd of 70,000-plus to Reliant Stadium in Houston, we’re calling it a net win for MLS anyway.
4) 2012: Comeback Win vs. Chelsea: Unlike the previous item on our list, this game did end in favor of the MLS All-Stars, who rallied from a 2-1 deficit thanks to late goals from Chris Pontius and Eddie Johnson – the latter in stoppage time – to defeat a club just two months removed from a Champions League title. Also notice the setup man on that second goal: Dwayne De Rosario. You might think it’s a coincidence he’s showing up on this list so much. It’s not. Just wait.
3) 2009: Tim Howard Saves 3 Penalties In Everton’s Tiebreaker Win: This one was bittersweet for MLS, and American soccer as a whole. While the MLS side lost a heartbreaker in penalties to Premier League outfit Everton, the man who might have been most responsible for Everton’s victory was not only an American, but a former MLSer – goalkeeper Tim Howard. Howard turned back three penalty shots from Brad Davis, Davy Arnaud and Freddie Ljungberg to give the international competition its first win over the MLS All-Stars.
2) 2003: MLS Beats CD Guadalajara In First Test Of New All-Star Format: The matchup that started it all (note: by “it all,” we mean “the MLS All-Star Game’s current format”), and it started with a bang for the MLS side. Led by second-half goals from Ante Razov, Carlos Ruiz, and DaMarcus Beasley, the MLS All-Stars bested C.D. Guadalajara 3-1. If you enjoy the MLS All-Star Game as we know it, best to thank those guys (and the 27,000 fans who showed up to the Home Depot Center that day).
1) 2006: Dwayne De Rosario Gives All-Stars The Win Against EPL Champion Chelsea: Dwayne De Rosario is some kind of All-Star savant. He’s mentioned in half the items in this list, but none of his many All-Star accomplishments stand above him scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win over a Chelsea team a mere three months after the club won its second straight Premier League championship. And just look at it – it was a beauty. De Rosario’s hairstyle has changed a lot through the years, but his penchant for coming through when it counts is the same as it ever was. MLS fans, we’d imagine, are thankful for that.
Photos via MLS and Getty