Steve Davis
Thursday July 28th, 2011

MLS All-Stars player ratings (scale of 1-10):

GK, Faryd Mondragon, 5 -- He can't feel too badly about either goal given up, especially since Mondragon adequately snuffed out some other danger here and there. The veteran from Philadelphia was wise to anticipate out one early ball from Wayne Rooney that was two feet from becoming the easiest of tap-ins for Dimitar Berbatov. And he dealt well with Rooney's well-struck ball from 24 yards.

D, Sean Franklin, 3 -- It never seems right to be too hard on players in these matches, which are just glorified exhibitions, after all. That said, very little went right for the Galaxy fullback, who seemed timid against Ashley Young and never did a thing on offense. His starting positions were suspect, and he got absolutely shredded on Ji-Sung Park's goal just before the break.

D, Jamison Olave, 7 -- Looked in command right from the start, and his early departure (in the 32nd minute) due to a knee injury was a terrible break for the MLS side. He was easily the league's best defender during that time, winning balls, dealing physically but fairly with Rooney and Berbatov and even chasing down Rooney from behind despite starting out with a four- to five-step deficit.

D, Tim Ream, 5 -- Never quite showed the same authority as Olave (or even as Geoff Cameron, later). One early pass from Ream looked slightly nervous (and almost caused some trouble for Mondragon). All in all, mark this one under "not great, not bad, nothing special."

D, Bobby Convey, 4 -- The San Jose left back -- who never really wants to be a left back -- did make a mark Wednesday by getting forward regularly in the attacking spirit of the night. If only he had done a little more with all that movement into Manchester United's end. A couple of sloppy passes put his team in trouble, and he needed to be more aggressive about supplying early services once he did access those deeper spots. At the other end, he did OK against Park, who started on Convey's side.

M, Shalrie Joseph, 4 -- He was a bit of a Grenadian fish out of water in this one, playing as an advanced midfielder, ahead and to the right of David Beckham in Hans Backe's 4-3-3. He plays in a variety of spots for Steve Nicol at New England but seemed unsure of his marking assignments and of his offensive choices Wednesday. And most surprising, Joseph didn't bring his tackling shoes. While that's understandable to a point in a friendly, a little misdemeanor level shin kicking probably would have helped his team.

M, David Beckham, 6 -- He was clearly the offensive centerpiece to Backe's plan. Beckham sat back as a deep-lying playmaker in the 4-3-3, behind Joseph and Brad Davis. And through the first 30 minutes he really did work some dandy balls around the park, putting all that classy vision and pinpoint accuracy to work with a variety of medium- and long-range service. But none of his targets seemed quite on board, so the plan broke down. Later, when the subs started flowing, it came apart completely. Also, as he's not someone with keen defensive instincts, Beckham was leaving acres of space available behind him in front of the back four. It took United about 15 minutes to spot that space and begin showing MLS who was boss. Ironically, the first time Beckham found himself in a good spot on the right, he whipped in a wonderful and dangerous cross -- which makes you wonder if that's where he should have been all along. Late in the match, with things long decided, his 88th-minute free kick (from distinctively "Beckham territory") found only side netting.

M, Brad Davis, 6 -- He was one of the more useful MLS players, set up ahead of Beckham and to the left. The Dynamo man got into a great shooting space in the 19th minute but just couldn't get his body turned or his feet right, and the shot from close range was disappointing. Overall, his was a night of active defense and solid passing, and one shot from range seriously tested goalkeeper Anders Lindergaard.

F, Omar Cummings, 4 -- As the right-sided forward on a three-man front line, the intent was to use those balls from Beckham to dash in behind United's back line. Only, Cummings was matched against Patrice Evra and, as they say, "this ain't his first rodeo." So it became a very quiet night for the Colorado man who is having a very quiet season -- and was only on the All-Star squad because Backe planned to expose United with speed up top. So much for that.

F, Thierry Henry, 5 -- Lined up left initially but interchanged liberally with Omar Bravo in the middle and sometimes drifted into midfield to find the game, just as he does for the Red Bulls. He squandered one amazing ball from Beckham, who delivered a perfectly weighted ball onto Henry's left foot from midfield. The league's leading scorer probably could have used the pace of the pass to guide a ball goal-ward, first time. Instead, Henry fumbled away the opportunity. Henry did always look comfortable on the ball, which is no surprise. After all, he's been in bigger matches than this one.

F, Omar Bravo, 4 -- Like the other forwards, he seemed a little unsure of his role and, as a result, became fairly static. He did help cook up a couple of neat little combos, including one with Cummings that nearly produced an early MLS chance. Another little heel flick left Beckham with room to shoot, but nothing much came of it. All in all, the former Mexican international seemed to have a good time, but he probably wishes he had done more -- especially when he blew a second-half rebound from point blank-range, missing wide on one of the best MLS chances. Bravo was among two "commissioner's picks," so maybe the commissioner needs to pick a little more wisely.

D, Geoff Cameron, 6 -- Remind us why this guy isn't a center back in MLS? The Dynamo midfielder (who played previously at center back) was needed to replace Olave just before halftime. He got involved right away with a big (somewhat risky) sliding tackle on Evra inside the MLS penalty area. He was generally assertive and confident in the tackle and looked ever so comfortable on the ball.

G, Tally Hall, 5 -- No chance on either goal he allowed and was especially unlucky as Danny Welbeck's goal for Manchester United nicked off Cameron's knee. There seemed to be a little communication foible here and there, but you expect these things in such a match.

M, Heath Pearce, 5 -- Entered at halftime for the struggling Franklin at right back, where Pearce played all last year but hasn't spent a second this year for Chivas USA. Technical and accurate on the ball, he had a fairly good second half. His grade will get nicked because he needed to be better on Welbeck's goal, the visitor's fourth, which all happened down his side.

M, Kyle Beckerman, 6 -- Another halftime sub, he added slightly more bite to the midfield, with more tackling than Joseph had provided. Beckerman played a little closer to Beckham to provide some additional defensive support. That allowed Beckham to find some spaces out wide, which provided a bit of useful attacking variation. But just a bit.

M, Nick LaBrocca, 4 -- Playing on the right as MLS adopted something closer to a 4-4-2 after the break, he never made much impact. LaBrocca is having a great campaign at Chivas USA, but he looked a little slow of thought and action in this one, perhaps not quite up to All-Star quality. He did seem to settle after coming close on one nice ball from Jack Jewsbury.

M, Chris Wondolowski, 4 -- Came on for Henry at halftime, presumably to give the MLS side a better target presence, which was lacking completely in the arrangement before intermission. Wondolowski turned and thumped one ball in the 64th minute that goalkeeper Ben Amos could only parry desperately. Last year's league scoring leader wasn't as sharp Wednesday in areas beyond the MLS attacking third. And he couldn't do enough on a couple of crosses near goal that did find their way past United's talented center backs.

M, Corey Ashe, 5 -- Was one of two 62nd-minute replacements for Backe. The Houston left back quickly moved into position for a chance to serve, but that was a bust. He never really got loose down the side on offense. Defensively he nicely matched Nani stride-for-stride on one late run up the wing.

F, Jack Jewsbury, 5 -- The other 62nd-minute introduction, he came in for Davis as a central midfielder. The Portland Timbers midfielder, enjoying a breakout season, brought lots of hustle and bustle to Red Bull Arena, but he's really not a player who will slice up a world-class defense. Jewsbury served up one driven, inviting ball to LaBrocca, whose shot was high and wide.

D, Matt Besler, 5 -- A late replacement for Ream at center back, Besler made little impact either way. His overall contribution to the event will probably be in tweaking the future voting process, which was rigged in his favor by some clever marketing. That's not his fault, of course.

F, Juan Agudelo, 6 -- The folks at Sporting Kansas City probably weren't happy that Bravo played 82 minutes before finally getting relief from the young Red Bulls striker, Agudelo. Oh well. Agudelo made the most of his limited minutes, springing free inside the penalty area right away (but playing his pass too far behind a couple of targets near goal). A few minutes later he won a rare MLS corner in a one-on-one encounter with United fullback Phil Jones.

GK, Kasey Keller, 6 -- A nice touch by the MLS side to get its classy, veteran keeper in at the 82nd for Hall. Keller, in his final season, had time to display some sure hands on a couple of tricky little balls near MLS goal.

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