MLS All-Stars Roll Over Celtic FC
A wonderful finish from Angel rounding Celtic 'keeper Artur Boruc after being put through by Dwayne De Rosario put the MLS All-Stars in the lead in the 36th minute. Then Toja slotted home the rebound of a deflected free kick to provide the MLS side with their second.
Angel was named the game's Honda Most Valuable Player in balloting of the media and online at MLSnet.com. The win kept Major League Soccer unbeaten against club sides from around the world in the All-Star Game format.
From the start the All-Stars had Celtic on the back foot. Ronnie O'Brien flustered Boruc with a swerving cross from the right wing in the fifth minute as the Polish international reached up to punch the service clear but missed -- however his mistake went unpunished as Juan Toja arrived a second too late to reach the ball.
Moments later Ricardo Clark set off on a slaloming run that took him past four Celtic defenders and clear into the penalty box but the Houston star had to shoot from a sharp angle and Boruc calmly went low to smother his drive.
The All-Stars were clearly not lacking in talent or imagination but with their limited preparation time it was little surprise to see many of their early passing sequences break down due to miscommunication.
Seventeen minutes in a nifty turn by Hoops midfielder Paul Hartley bought him time to spray a wide ball to advancing fullback Mark Wilson as the visitors looked to get some numbers in the All-Stars' box but MLS goalkeeper Matt Reis came out confidently to gobble up the resulting cross and snuff out the danger.
Some great work from Eddie Johnson led to a great chance that should have put the MLS squad in front in the 21st minute.
After Clark intercepted a Celtic pass around midfield he found the Wizards hitman advancing along the right channel and Johnson burst past Stephen McManus before cutting back and clipping a looping ball to the far side of the box that fell invitingly for Toja at the far post. But the Colombian from FC Dallas was denied from point-blank range as Boruc threw his right paw up to block his drive in stunning fashion.
Seconds later Steven Pressley earned the evening's first booking when he chopped down De Rosario as he slashed towards goal with a full head of steam. The foul set up a promising set piece some 25 yards out but Angel whipped his effort high and wide of the upper right corner of the net.
Another Hoops turnover at midfield gave De Rosario the opportunity to skip a beautiful through ball into Johnson's path and he boldly took on three Celtic defenders before seeing a shot blocked by Pressley's desperate slide.
But the ensuing corner kick wreaked further havoc as Toja's arcing left-footed delivery created uncertainty among the Hoops rearguard and fell to Johnson at the far post who cannily waited for Scott Brown to slide in and immediately went to ground prompting referee Baldomero Toledo to point to the spot for a penalty kick.
The call earned a derisive response from the vocal contingent of Celtic fans looking on from the nearest sideline section as Brown's challenge made no contact with the ball.
From a Celtic perspective justice was done however -- because on the ensuing spot kick Boruc shuttled to his right to deny Johnson's bid and preserve the stalemate.
But the All-Stars would not be denied finally drawing first blood thanks to the cold-blooded finishing of Angel. De Rosario had been thriving in the space just in front of the Celtic back line and when he was again given time and space to run at the defense in the 36th minute Angel's intelligent lateral movement left Wilson stranded in no-man's land.
De Rosario laid a delicate ball into the Colombian's path and he cut past the advancing Boruc before rolling his left-footed finish into the empty net for a 1-0 lead.
Some quality hold-up play by Hoops star Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink gave his side their best chance of the half in the 41st minute. The Dutchman latched onto a high deflection at the edge of the All-Stars box and muscled off Jonathan Bornstein before laying off for his strike partner Scott McDonald who cracked a low hard shot that beat Reis only to ricochet off the base of the right post.
The All-Stars doubled their lead just before halftime as Toja atoned for his earlier miss with an opportunistic finish following a set piece. The Scottish champions had blocked De Rosario's shot but failed to clear their lines and Toja was in the right place at the right time to pick up the loose ball and slot his shot past Boruc with the outside of his left foot.
The All-Stars made one change at the break throwing Kevin Hartman between the posts in place of Reis and the Wizards netminder was quickly brought into the action when Brown whipped a long-range shot through traffic that Hartman blocked then sprawled to collect.
Seconds later the MLS 'keeper was caught out of position by a booming far-post cross from Hoops left back Lee Naylor but was rescued by Bornstein's clearing header with Vennegoor of Hesselink lurking.
Celtic's McDonald seemed to have halved the deficit when he flicked home a close-range finish after Hartman spilled Jiri Jarosik's hard drive right into his path but the diminutive striker had strayed offside and the goal was waved off.
Naylor was covering plenty of ground with regular runs down Celtic's left flank and Hartman had to sprint off his line to smother an enticing through ball at the left back's feet near the hour mark.
Substitute Aiden McGeady gave the Hoops faithful something to cheer about when he bamboozled O'Brien with a nifty turn in front of the Celtic bench before racing down the touchline and whipping in a low near-post cross that Kenny Miller touched just wide of the target.
The game lost some of its flow as both sides made numerous substitutions in the late going but there were enough fresh legs and talent to keep matters interesting.
Boruc came up big again to deny O'Brien after the Irishman was set up by a smart pass from substitute Landon Donovan 11 minutes from full time. Then the big goalkeeper rebuffed Christian Gomez on the doorstep then watched from a prone position as the D.C. United playmaker bundled home only to be whistled for fouling Bobo Balde.
All-Stars coach Steve Nicol -- and the New England Revolution fans watching at home -- got a scare in the dying moments as Shalrie Joseph dropped to the turf clutching his knee after an aerial challenge in his own penalty box but he was able to leave the field under his own power and looked to have shaken off the knock as he headed to the bench.