Jeff Cunningham Leads All-Stars to Victory

COLUMBUS - (From MLSNet.com) - The MLS All-Stars got three second-half goals including a pair from substitute Jeff Cunningham to race past Fulham FC of the English Premier League for a 4-1 victory in the 2005 Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game on Saturday afternoon at Columbus Crew Stadium.

(To view Cunningham's goals and other video highlights from the 2005 Sierra Mist MLS All-Star game CLICK HERE).

In honor of Jeff Cunningham scoring two goals in the 2005 Sierra Mist MLS All Star Game the Rapids are offering all fans the chance to get 2 Rapids home games for the price of 1! Purchase a ticket to the Rapids' home match on Wednesday August 17th vs. the New England Revolution and receive a free ticket to the Rapids match on Wednesday September 21st vs. Real Salt Lake! The free ticket will be of equal or lesser value based on availability. To take advantage of this great opportunity or to receive more information call the Rapids at 303-825-GOAL today and ask for the "Jeff Cunningham Special"!

MLS All-Star Game Honda MVP Taylor Twellman (New England Revolution) gave the MLS team the lead midway through the first half but a penalty converted by Fulham's Claus Jensen sent the teams into the break level. Ronnie O'Brien (FC Dallas) deflected a Clint Dempsey (New England Revolution) shot to put the MLS side ahead for good just before the hour.

Cunningham (Colorado Rapids) scored two goals in the final five minutes to provide the final scoreline.

The MLS All-Stars earned the first good scoring chance of the match in the third minute as Fulham defender Moritz Volz misplayed a cross by O'Brien. The German's header went straight up in the air and Dempsey fired a shot towards the back post but it was cleared away by Carlos Bocanegra.

The former Chicago Fire defender was unable to save the London squad from an early deficit in the 23rd minute. Landon Donovan fed a ball from just outside the penalty box to Twellman and the Revolution forward beat Bocanegra to the ball and poked it past netminder Mark Crossley to give the MLS All-Stars an early lead.

The same pair was wreaking havoc in the Fulham defense five minutes. The Whites allowed Donovan to carry the ball to the penalty box where the Galaxy star found Twellman whose shot went just wide of goalkeeper's right post. During the play Crossley was injured and soon replaced by Jaroslav Drobny.

The MLS lead lasted only for a quarter hour as Fulham leveled the match from the penalty spot. Jensen found Luis Boa Morte streaking on the left side of the pitch and Chris Albright took down the Portuguese player as he tried to slip past in the area. From the spot Jensen sent Matt Reis the wrong way to pull the visitors even.

Another beautiful piece of setup work by Donovan was wasted in the 38th minute. A through ball from the Galaxy forward put Dempsey behind the defense and in alone on goal but the Revolution midfielder's shot narrowly missed the target.

Fulham had a great chance to take the lead five minutes into the second stanza. A pass to space by Brian McBride perfectly led Tomasz Radzinski on the right. While Jimmy Conrad (Kansas city Wizards) chased from behind the Canadian striker beat Matt Reis (New England Revolution) with an angled drive but the left post saved the netminder.

A curling O'Brien blast challenged Drobny in the 54th minute the Fulham 'keeper able to push the shot out for a corner.

But Fulham had no answer for O'Brien just a couple minutes later. An Ivan Guerrero (Chicago Fire) effort was headed away from goal but not out of danger by Bocanegra. Dempsey came running on at the top of the area and volleyed the clearance towards goal the shot deflected ever slightly inside the far post by the Irishman.

In the final attack before both players were being substituted out of the match Donovan found Dempsey with a cross six yards from goal but Dempsey's open volley went well over the bar.

The MLS All-Stars nearly extended on two occasions but Twellman struck a shot off the near post in the 72nd minute and Cunningham was denied by Drobny's diving save two minutes later.

Fulham nearly grabbed an equalizer against the run of play in the 79th minute but Matt Reis parried Steed Malbranque's shot over the goal.

The match was put beyond question five minutes later as Cunningham added two late insurance goals to guarantee a victorious afternoon for the MLS side. In the 85th minute he collected a neat pass from Christian Gomez that split the defense ripping a low drive from the right that cleanly beat Drobny and bounced off the inside of the post into the net.

Then in the 89th minute the speed of Cunningham took advantage of the lack of fitness of the Fulham team still in their preseason preparations and at the end of a match on an unfamiliar hot day. Cunningham took a short pass in the center circle and burst through the Fulham back line racing in alone before slipping a rolling shot home.

Fulham FC vs. MLS All-Stars
July 30 2005 -- Columbus Crew Stadium

Scoring Summary:
MLS -- Taylor Twellman (Landon Donovan) 23
FFC -- Claus Jensen (penalty kick) 36
MLS -- Ronnie O'Brien (Clint Dempsey) 56
MLS -- Jeff Cunningham (Christian Gomez) 85
MLS -- Jeff Cunningham (Shalrie Joseph) 89

Fulham FC Starting 11 -- Mark Crossley Moritz Volz Carlos Bocanegra Zat Knight Niclas Jensen Steed Malbranque Claus Jensen Zesh Rehman Luis Boa Morte Brian McBride Tomasz Radzinski.

TOTAL SHOTS: 10 (Claus Jensen 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (Claus Jensen 2 Steed Malbranque 2); FOULS: 13 (4 tied with 2); OFFSIDES: 2 (Brian McBride 1 Tomasz Radzinski 1); CORNER KICKS: 2 (Claus Jensen 2); SAVES: 2 (Jaroslav Drobny 2)

MLS All-Stars Starting 11-- Matt Reis Chris Albright Jimmy Conrad Greg Vanney Frankie Hejduk Ronnie O'Brien Shalrie Joseph Simo Valakari Clint Dempsey Taylor Twellman Landon Donovan.

TOTAL SHOTS: 15 (Clint Dempsey 4 Taylor Twellman 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 6 (Jeff Cunningham 3); FOULS: 13 (Jimmy Conrad 3 Clint Dempsey 3); OFFSIDES: 7 (Taylor Twellman 6); CORNER KICKS: 3 (Landon Donovan 2); SAVES: 3 (Matt Reis 3)

Misconduct Summary:
FFC -- Moritz Volz (caution; Persistent Infringement) 39
MLS -- Jeff Cunningham (caution; Game Disrepute) 90

Referee: Ricardo Valenzuela
Referee's Assistants: George Gansner; Chris Strickland
4th Official: Ricardo Salazar
Attendance: 23309 (sellout)
Time of Game: 1:51
Weather: Sunny-and-82-degrees

All Statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.