Philadelphia, Penn. (July 28, 2011) - Omar Cummings was still going through messages late Thursday morning when he arrived into Philadelphia via train from New York's Penn Station. The Jamaican, who was given the surprise start for the MLS All-Star side that fell 4-0 to English powerhouse Manchester United the night before at Red Bull Arena, joined his Rapids teammates ahead of Friday's match against the Union (Fox Soccer, 5:30 pm MT).
"I was very proud to represent MLS, Colorado, Jamaica, and my family and friends," Cummings told ColoradoRapids.com of his All-Star debut. "I received so many texts and voicemails, and facebook messages from friends that said they are proud to say they played with me in college. The experience is something that will stay with me forever."
Cummings found out he was starting at the training session the day before the game when All-Stars coach Hans Backe told the group that those without the pennies on would begin the match.
"I looked around and saw myself on the field with Omar Bravo and Thierry Henry lined up as the forwards, with David Beckham behind us," said Cummings. "It was pretty exciting."
As the starters lineup inside the tunnel before the match, Cummings was approached by Manchester United's Ashley Young. Young was at Aston Villa last January when Cummings was training with the club for a month. The two exchanged greetings and then traded jerseys after the match.
Knowing that his #14 would be worn by Thierry Henry, Cummings inquired if his preferred #9 was an option and was told it wasn't. So he selected #18, but was then informed that retiring goalkeeper Kasey Keller had first choice of that number, and despite playing in Panama the day before with the Seattle Sounders, he was planning on making it to the game - which he did. Cummings was then told #9 became available so he snapped it up. The number has been Cummings' favorite since he wore it high school, choosing it because it was the number worn by his favorite players, Brazil's Careca and then Ronaldo.
Despite creating the first good chance for the All-Stars early on, Cummings and the MLS side were out-matched by the English giants.
"It's always disappointing to lose a game," admitted Cummings. "But a game like that, it's not played at any and all costs. To come together to play a team like Man U, no matter what team you're with - any All-Star team around the world - to come together as a team in three days to face Man U is always going to be an uphill task. We tried to enjoy the moment.
While the loss left a little sting, the lasting memory for the 29-year-old will not be the final score.
"It was great," he said of sharing the field with so many world class players. "You're in awe. Even coming off the field, seeing Beckham and how easily he does his passes, they were pinpoint every time. And chatting with Henry, it's something as a kid growing up you never thought of doing. It was a bonus, a dream come true, and I'm very happy for the experience."