MLS All-Stars fall to Man U in front of 70,728

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MLS All-Stars fall to Man U in front of 70,728

Wednesday, July 28, 2010
10:22 PM

Associated Press

HOUSTON (AP)Manchester United turned the Major League Soccer All-Star game into its own showcase of talent.

Federico Macheda had two early goals, Mexican star Javier Hernandez scored in his debut for the Red Devils, and Manchester United routed the MLS All-Stars 5-2 on Wednesday night in the final exhibition game of its North American tour.

Darron Gibson and Tom Cleverley added goals for the Red Devils, tuning up for the start of the Premier League season next month.

Houston Dynamo star Brian Ching had a goal and an assist for the All-Stars, who were hoping for a validating victory against one of the worlds pre-eminent soccer powers. But Macheda scored twice in the first 13 minutes, quickly dashing the MLS teams hopes.

The Red Devils, who played without several top players, circled the field and applauded the fans after the game.

The sellout crowd was announced at 70,728, the largest for an MLS All-Star game since the first one in 1996 drew 78,416 to Giants Stadium. The attendance figure was the largest for a soccer game at Reliant Stadium.

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Red Stars enter NWSL semifinals with chip on shoulder

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Dan Bartel, ISI Photos

Red Stars enter NWSL semifinals with chip on shoulder

Just over a year ago the Chicago Red Stars hosted a National Women’s Soccer League semifinal and had high expectations for a playoff run.

However, it all came crashing down quickly in a 3-0 loss at Toyota Park in which visiting FC Kansas City scored all three goals in the first 25 minutes. Kansas City went on to win the league title and the Red Stars were left to wonder what the heck just happened.

Now, the Red Stars have a chance at redemption in a return to the NWSL semifinals. The Red Stars will visit the Washington Spirit on Friday.

“I’m personally really excited to play on Friday, to be back in the semifinals the year after kind of a hard loss last season against Kansas City,” Red Stars forward Christen Press said. “I think that the girls that were here last year we kind of have a chip on our shoulder about that match and how it went down. I think that’s helped motivate us to get back.”

After finishing third in the NWSL regular season the Red Stars have to go on the road in this year’s semifinal. The Spirit and Red Stars are the only two teams to return from the 2015 playoffs and both lost 3-0 in the semifinals so the redemption factor goes both ways.

The Red Stars are well aware of what happened last year, but coach Rory Dames doesn’t expect a repeat.

“I expect the game to not be over 20 minutes in,” Dames said. “Different team, different year.”

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This year’s Red Stars racked up plenty of individual accolades in getting back to the playoffs. Press is one of five finalists for league MVP, Julie Johnston and Arin Gilliland are Defender of the Year finalists and Alyssa Naeher is up for Goalkeeper of the Year.

A win would push the Red Stars into the club’s first NWSL final in the NWSL’s fourth season. Last year’s semifinal was the first playoff appearance for the Red Stars.

The Red Stars just beat the Spirit on Saturday 3-1 in the regular season finale at Toyota Park. Back on July 9 the Spirit won 2-0 at the Maryland SoccerPlex, host site of Friday’s semifinal.

“We played them at (their) home earlier in the season and it didn’t end the way we wanted,” said midfielder Courtney Raetzman, who graduated from Conant High School in Hoffman Estates. “But I think we showed that we can play with them and as our game just showed, we beat them and we probably didn’t even perform to our absolute best so I’m really excited going into this next game.”

Dames said playing back-to-back games against a playoff opponent “isn’t ideal” in terms of coaching but it’s also a confidence boost to have a win heading into the playoffs.

“I think it’s a good and a bad thing because we both have extra video on each other, on playing each other specifically,” midfielder Taylor Comeau said. “We have a couple things that we definitely want to clean up and we’ll rewatch the film and clean up just what we think we need to and hopefully have a better performance in the next game.”

The winner of Friday’s semifinal will play in the NWSL final in Houston’s BBVA Compass Stadium on Oct. 9.

Fire shut out in loss at streaking Seattle

Fire shut out in loss at streaking Seattle

The Chicago Fire dropped another road game Wednesday night.

The Seattle Sounders topped the Fire 1-0 behind a first-half goal from Chad Marshall. It is the Fire’s 12th road loss in 15 matches this season.

Marshall headed in an Andreas Ivanschitz corner kick in the 24th minute for the game’s only goal. Marshall, one of Seattle’s best targets on set pieces, was all alone just outside the six-yard box.

Seattle had more than 70 percent of the possession in the first half. The Fire pushed forward more frequently in the second half, but could not find the tying goal. David Arshakyan had a pair of good looks in the box late, but couldn't put one away.

The loss at Seattle (12-13-5, 41 points), coupled with other results earlier on Wednesday, means the Fire (6-15-9, 27 points) are now officially eliminated from playoff contention. The Fire are the first team to be eliminated.

The shutout snapped a streak of 10 straight MLS matches in which the Fire had scored.

Midfielder John Goossens returned to action after missing the last two matches with a back injury. He replaced Arturo Alvarez in the 65th minute.

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David Accam celebrated his 26th birthday on Wednesday. He was also called up to Ghana’s national team on the day. Ghana will host Uganda in a World Cup qualifier on Oct. 7 and play at South Africa on Oct. 11.

There are four games left in the Fire’s season, beginning with the finale of this three-game road trip Saturday at Columbus.