Behind the Scenes at the All-Star Game

Go inside the MLS team’s locker room, visit their training room and get a field-level view of Wednesday’s meeting with Chelsea in this clip from Major League Soccer:

That collision at the 3:27 mark between Sporting Kansas City defender Aurelien Collin and Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien? It left Collin with two facial fractures.

Other than that—and, for Vancouver fans, the fact that Collin’s injury pressed Jay DeMerit into 90 minutes of duty (instead of the planned 45) when he has a key league match against Real Salt Lake tonight—this was a great night for the U.S. league.

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MLS Had Itself Quite an Entertaining Wednesday

There was a highlight-filled, eight-goal thriller in San Jose, another goal for EJ and a 35-yard golazo from Fredy Montero in Seattle, and a solid bounce-back in New England.

First, the San Jose–DC United carnival of soccer fun, which went to the Quakes 5-3, and included Dwayne De Rosario’s curling one-timer, his spectacular bicycle kick that was saved—even more spectacularly—by Jon Busch, his devastating late assist to Hamdi Salihi, and Daniel Woolard’s diving header.

That was just from the losing team. The winners got two goals apiece from Big Bird, aka Steven Lenhart, and league scoring leader Chris Wondolowski; some slick work from speedy winger Marvin Chavez, and a sweet passing sequence in the DC box to set up Wondo’s first goal.

Enjoy:

In Seattle, the Sounders blanked a second-choice Los Angeles side 2-0 behind Fredy Montero’s magical 48th-minute strike.

Take a look:

In Foxboro, the up-and-down Revolution rediscovered their goal-scoring touch to rally from a 1-0 deficit and defeat Colorado 2-1 behind a pair of fine goals from Saer Sene and first-time starter Fernando Cardenas.

Highlights:

Not a bad night. The league will try to top it when this round of play resumes on Friday night, with Chivas USA taking on Chicago. Week 9 continues through the weekend, with seven games on Saturday and one on Sunday.

Your 2011 MLS MVP is—No Surprise Here—Dwayne De Rosario

MLS wrapped up its 2011 Awards season with today’s announcement that DC United attacker Dwayne De Rosario has been named Most Valuable Player.

The Canadian international, who also played for Toronto FC and New York this season, adds the MVP trophy to the Golden Boot he won earlier as the league’s leading scorer.

De Rosario racked up 16 goals and 12 assists this year, totals that no doubt boosted his MVP candidacy, but we think we can pinpoint the moment he sewed up the award. It was during this three-goal, one-assist, 31-minute flourish against Real Salt Lake in September:

De Rosario edged Houston’s Brad Davis and FC Dallas’s Brek Shea for the award.

Here’s a bonus De Ro 2011 highlight clip:

Is This the Greatest 31-minute Flourish in MLS History?

We can’t say for sure, but it’s definitely in the running—DC United attacker Dwayne De Rosario lights up Real Salt Lake for a (killer) assist and three spectacular goals in slightly more than half an hour of devastation:

It was another lively week in MLS as New York bounced back from Rafagate, Seattle won the Cascadia Cup, Houston took the Texas derby, and LA moved closer to wrapping up the Supporters’ Shield. Read all about it here.

Red Bulls Trade for Dwayne De Rosario; He Sets Up Goal Two Minutes Into New York Debut

The New York Red Bulls dealt midfielders Tony Tchani and Danleigh Borman to Toronto FC in exchange for five-time MLS Best XI selection Dwayne De Rosario this past Friday.

The move—which gives New York a potentially fearsome front five in former Arsenal legend Thierry Henry, rising U.S. international Juan Agudelo, De Rosario, Jamaican speed demon Dane Richards and last year’s team MVP Joel Lindpere—paid immediate dividends on Saturday night against Houston.

After watching the scoreless first half from the bench, De Rosario came on for Mehdi Ballouchy at the start of the second half. The difference was so stark, you actually felt bad for Ballouchy. De Ro was a dynamic, skillful presence, and on one of his first touches he slipped a ball behind Houston’s backline that Richards ran onto, cut back and buried into the far side netting.

The lead didn’t last long, though, as New York keeper Bouna Coundoul misjudged a flick-on by Dynamo striker Will Bruin and was chipped by Cam Weaver to make it 1-1 just minutes after Richards’ goal.

That’s the way it ended, but not for lack of chances by the Red Bulls. They outshot Houston 24-9, and were stymied by several brilliant saves from Dynamo netminder Tally Hall, who twice stopped Henry from close range, and made three big saves in stoppage time.

Complete highlights here:

(Notice how the announcer calls substitute Cam Weaver—a striker, mind you—“the unlikeliest of sources” for a Houston goal. Ouch.)

We will miss the promising midfielder Tchani, but the acquisition of De Rosario is a huge win-now move. As New York GM Erik Soler told MLS Soccer: “We want to win the Supporters’ Shield, [and] the MLS Cup. We want to do that this year. I will be disappointed if we don’t.”

Despite the result on Saturday, the move looked like it would pay dividends, especially as the players get used to one another. It might even wake up Henry, who has sleepwalked through much of the young 2011 season.

For the rest of the Week 3 MLS action, check out our column over at the league website.

Top Ten Stories We Missed as 2010 turned to 2011

Timbers fans will be ready for their April 14 home opener. Count on it.

A lot went down while we were up North. Here are the top ten items we would have posted about had we not shuttered the BP for the past 12 days:

10. Philadelphia Signs Homegrown Player Zach Pfeffer

The 15-year-old Upper Dublin, Pa., resident became the fourth-youngest signing in league history. Pfeffer is the 23rd player signed as part of MLS’s recent ‘Homegrown Initiative.’

9. Stuart Holden Hurt in Chelsea Match, Misses Liverpool Tilt

The newly minted Best Player in the Premier League picked up a knock in Bolton’s 1-0 loss to the Blues on Dec 29, then missed the next game, versus Liverpool, on New Year’s Day. Not surprisingly, Bolton, which was also without defender Paul Robinson (suspension), lost, 2-1.

8. Brads Friedel and Guzan Enjoy Big Weeks

Friedel stood on his head to preserve a see-saw 3-3 tie for Aston Villa vs Chelsea on Jan 2, while his backup, Guzan, was loaned out to second-tier Hull City on Dec 30. He immediately stepped into the starting lineup and went 1-1 in his first two games with the Tigers.

7. Dwayne De Rosario Goes AWOL to Celtic

Toronto FC’s deadliest attacker hopped a plane to Celtic Park on Boxing Day (Dec 26) for a few kickabouts with the (original) Hoops. When asked about it, TFC first insisted the player had done no such thing, then said he did not have their permission. De Ro swore that he did have his employers’ OK. Upshot: Toronto worked out an arrangement with Celtic after the fact, and this story is developing.

6. Silly Season of (Aging) Foreign-Stars-to-MLS Rumors Kicks In

While rumors of Ronaldinho-to-LA Galaxy cooled (and he was chased by several Brazilian clubs, and Blackburn), they were replaced by reports that Nicolas Anelka, Adrian Mutu, and Guillermo Franco all had designs on eventual Stateside moves, along with Patrick Vieira, Roberto Carlos, and Marco Materazzi. These reports are always fun and to some extent flattering for the league, but, well, let’s just say that they—and the players’ fitness for MLS—should be taken on a case-by-case basis.

5. Portland Timbers Breach 10,000 Mark in Season Tickets Sold

Think they’re fired up for MLS in the Northwest? Hell and yes. The team surpassed 10,000 in 2011 season ticket sales on Jan 3, and says it will cap the sales at 12,000. The club’s newly renovated stadium, PGE Park, seats 20,000. According to this story, the Timbers’ Cascadia Cup rivals the Vancouver Whitecaps have accepted more than 13,000 season-ticket deposits for 2011, but haven’t said how many of those have been turned into season ticket sales.

4. Purported Beckham Loan Deals Verge on Farcical

More than half a dozen Premier League teams, along with several sprinkled across Europe, were linked to loan deals involving MLS’s most famous player in the past couple of weeks. Most of them turned out to be nothing more than rumors, but this past week Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp said he and Spurs were serious about acquiring the 35-year-old winger. Why they would want to disrupt the excellent season they’re having by bringing in a player who is a sideshow in and of himself is an open question—as is why the aging and recently injured (Achilles tendon, last March) Beckham would want to do it, and why Los Angeles or MLS would allow it.

3. Generation adidas, MLS Combine Names Announced

Rising futbol factory the University of Akron provided five of the first nine 2011 Generation adidas players (a 10th player, UCSB defender Michael Tetteh, was added today), and five non-college foreign players were included in the MLS Combine list, a first for the league. Those five, led by Wayne Rooney’s brother John, will be available in the Jan 13 SuperDraft alongside the NCAA candidates. Combine rosters here, Generation adidas players here.

2. Toronto FC Hires Former Dutch International Aron Winter as Coach

The 43-year-old former Ajax midfielder, who will be unveiled tomorrow will also act as Technical Director, with a staff that will include former New England assistant Paul Mariner and Winter’s fellow Dutchman Bob de Klerk, though their roles are as yet unclarified. The trio will try to get an overhauled TFC to the playoffs for the first time in its five-year existence.

1. Robin Fraser Lands Chivas USA Coaching Job

When this announcement was made, some MLS fans tweeted that they’d never heard of Fraser—enhancing our belief that the former rock-solid centerback is one of the most underrated players in MLS and USMNT history. A key assistant coach at Real Salt Lake the past few seasons, Fraser was a five-time Best XI selection and two-time defender of the year as a player in MLS, and always performed well in a U.S. shirt (he had 27 caps). Like TFC, Chivas is in a severe rebuilding mode, so Fraser has his work cut out for him. He will reportedly hire former Galaxy and U.S. teammate Greg Vanney as an assistant.

All right, we are more or less caught up. Next: Clint Dempsey continues to tear it up for Fulham, and MLS Combine news.