So last week I was supposed to be writing this article, but due to a major storm, the power in my building went out. As I sat there in complete and total darkness, like a lot of Columbus Crew fans were that night, I noticed my Chicago Fire scarf, and I thought about the MLS All-Star Game in 2017. Despite how relatively new I am to Chicago Fire fandom, I knew that this was not the Chicago Fire’s first All Star Game. This lead me to realize that with the wave of new fans brought on by the success of the team so far, and the coming of Bastian Schweinsteiger, and Veljko Paunovic’s disarming smile might not know about the first MLS All Star Game that Chicago had. The time that the MLS beat the Blue invasion.
The time the MLS All Stars beat Chelsea.
Chapter 1: Before the Game
Let’s go back to 2006 and set the scene a bit. Everyone knows Chelsea FC, especially that year, as Chelsea had ended the season with a Premier League title… again. They didn’t just win the league, they only lost 5 times during the year and drew just four times. They added that to the title they won last year, with legendary players like Michael Ballack, Arjen Robben, Damien Duff. They probably fancied a bit of money during the Summer, as most Premier League teams do.
Over in America, the Chicago Fire had just finished this super brand new stadium called Toyota Park, and the MLS was super excited to show it off. They were also feeling super ambitious. They had just recently started pitting MLS All Stars against non-MLS club teams. The first year was a win against Guadalajara, the second win was against a visiting Fulham. They decided to turn the sound up to 11, and the MLS scheduled that their All Stars that year play one of the best Chelsea teams ever. Why not show off your improving league, against one of the best teams in the world?
I don’t think I need to tell you that the air about the match was dire. On paper, even with a theoretical Chelsea B-team playing them, the MLS was going to get slaughtered. There was no way one of the wealthiest clubs would lose to a rag tag group of players who most people outside of America will have never heard of in their lives.
I mean look at this lineup (taken from Wikipedia):
Now look at Cheslea’s:
You can’t exactly blame the pessimism American “eurosnobs”, as they are not so happily called, had about the game. The MLS All Stars didn’t even have stars like Clint Dempsey or Landon Donovan. So this honestly wasn’t even the best possible combination of players that could have played Chelsea that night. Here’s a very interesting read from some of the people involved with the game.
Chapter 2: The Game
Look at the shine on Toyota Park, so sparkling new. As you can also see, there were great chances on both sides in the beginning along with a great clearance at the goal-line that I’m actually surprised isn’t used in more promotional stuff for the MLS.
It was basically tense up until Dwayne De Rosario, being the legend that he is, turned a great ball that was reeled in perfectly, and placed it perfectly into the net at the 70th minute. I’m not sure what it would have been like to see that, but I would have absolutely lost my mind, like these insanely pixelated guys.
Chapter 3: The Future
If you look at the history of matchups after that for the MLS All Star game match ups after, you can definitely see the bar raised for the expectation of competition. Names like Celtic, Manchester United, Arsenal, Bayern Munich, all of these teams were booked in the future. It wasn’t so out of the question to reach out to that level, especially after the shock competition the MLS All Stars put that summer in Toyota Park. They even played Chelsea again in 2012 and beat them!
As the MLS All Stars set up this summer against the Champions League winners, Real Madrid, you might not be thinking that the score is going to be 10 to 0. Maybe you are, and just not saying it, but still. The media narrative has behind the game has changed dramatically, and you can thank that fateful day in Chicago for that.