Arsenal snapped MLS's two-year run of winning the league's All-Star Game, as Chuba Akpom's 87th-minute goal proved decisive in a 2-1 win for the Gunners in the 2016 edition of the summer spectacle at the San Jose Earthquakes' Avaya Stadium.
Arsenal, playing without the star power of Alexis Sanchez, Olivier Giroud, Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey, took the lead in the 11th minute on Joel Campbell's penalty kick. It looked like it would carry that lead into halftime, but former Arsenal nemesis Didier Drogba equalized with the final kick of the first half to get the MLS All-Stars on the board.
Akpom scored the winner to prevent the game from going to penalties (match stipulations have the All-Star Game go straight to PKs and avoid extra time), redirecting Nacho Monreal's cross.
U.S. men's national team prospect Gedion Zelalem, 19, played the final 22 minutes for Arsenal.
Each goalkeeper was tested in the opening eight minutes. Philadelphia Union star Andre Blake was able to recover to save Theo Walcott's free kick toward the far post after he got caught cheating thinking Walcott would try to loop it over the wall:
Blake's counterpart, Petr Cech, came up big minutes later after Giovani Dos Santos was played over the top by Andrea Pirlo, denying him with a diving save.
Campbell put Arsenal up soon after from the penalty spot after he was taken down in the box by Laurent Ciman. Some miscommunication among the MLS defense and Blake caused some havoc, and Ciman tripped the Costa Rican international deep in the area. He beat Blake from the spot on the ensuing kick to give Arsenal the 1-0 lead:
Blake was called into action in the 26th minute by Mohamed Elneny, who laced a blast from outside the area only to have a flying Blake tip it over the bar:
Drogba brought MLS level just before halftime, touching home his third chance after two blocks–one by his former Chelsea teammate Cech. Sacha Kljestan, on just after the half-hour mark, played Dos Santos through the center. Dos Santos unselfishly found Drogba ahead of him, and the Montreal Impact forward persisted before finishing for the equalizer:
The sight of Drogba scoring against Arsenal is all too familiar for the Gunners:
The second half featured a slew of subs and some choppy play, though new signing Granit Xhaka nearly restored Arsenal's lead in stunning fashion about 70 minutes in. His blast from 35 yards was pushed wide by backup MLS goalkeeper–and hometown favorite–David Bingham:
Akpom nudged Arsenal in front in the final moments. Nacho Monreal fed him from the left, and he redirected home from close range for the winner. He took home match MVP honors as a result.
Arsenal has one more match in the USA when it takes on Chivas Guadalajara at StubHub Center in Carson, California, on Sunday.