The MLS All-Star team's 3-2 victory over Chelsea was a great night for American soccer. You can say it was just an exhibition match with little meaning, and point to European champions Chelsea laboring through their pre-season. Nonetheless, the performance of so many American players is something to be proud of to say the least.
Six years ago, when MLS defeated Chelsea in the same mid-summer exhibition match, the post-game trophy celebration was an overblown and overdone spectacle that made the league look amateurish and desperate.
Six years later, the Americans didn't eke out a 1-0 victory. They outplayed Chelsea for good stretches and rallied for a 3-2 victory, with several American players standing out in the process. The MLS stars then capped the night by quietly accepting their trophy and enjoying the victory in understated fashion. There were no confetti cannons going off like they did in 2006, just a measured reaction and proper perspective after an entertaining match.
Since MLS turned to this All-Star Game format of inviting international clubs to face MLS stars, the league has been hoping to make the showcase a chance to show the league's progress. That goal took a big hit in the past two years after blowout losses to Manchester United .
At sold-out PPL Park Wednesday night, MLS fielded arguably the strongest team in All-Star Game history and gave Chelsea a game from the opening minute. The team didn't lean on stars like Thierry Henry and David Beckham to carry the load. It was American players like Chris Wondolowski, Chris Pontius and Jay DeMerit who stepped up and showed off Major League Soccer's domestic talent.