Hans Backe approached David Beckham at halftime of Wednesday night's Major League Soccer All-Star Game in Harrison, N.J., and asked him if he wanted to stay on the field for the second half.
What a stupid question.
Here's the key to the most famous footballer on the planet: Given the option, he'll never leave the field. So he didn't, going the full 90 -- the only MLS player to do so -- in an “emotional” 4-0 loss to Manchester United, the Galaxy star's beloved original club.
Beckham was good, too, very influential over the first 45 minutes, in which the All-Stars played right to the English champions' level, except in the finish. Man United scored twice before halftime and twice more while taking command in the second half for its second successive victory in MLS's midsummer classic.
“It was an honor to play today,” Beckham told ESPN sideline reporter Rob Stone when it was over (see the entire interview in the previous post). “I think in the first 10 minutes we had a couple of really good chances. If we had put those away, that would have settled us down. Man United is a team that performs at the highest level, and if you don't capitalize on good chances, they can kill you. And, obviously, they did once they got the first goal. They played the ball around so well, and it's a pleasure to play them tonight.”
Every available MLS All-Star made it onto the field, even goalkeeper Kasey Keller, who had initially withdrawn from the game because Seattle had a CONCACAF Champions League match Tuesday night in Panama. The American legend raced from Central America to New Jersey afterward, arrived in Newark about 4½ hours before game time and came on to loud applause in the 82nd minute.
Here's our quick take on the four local players who participated:
DAVID BECKHAM (Galaxy): Forced two big saves from starting Man United goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard and repeatedly showed off his renowned abilities passing and crossing the ball. A solid performance in a game that meant more to him than to anyone else in Red Bull Arena.
SEAN FRANKLIN (Galaxy): Got the start at right back and was all right, although Park Ji-Sung, the MVP, turned him something fierce while scoring the second goal.
NICK LABROCCA (Chivas USA): The New Jersey boy's homecoming was terrific -- he brought tremendous energy to the field, made plays at both ends, and came so close to scoring twice -- and would have had the goal of the game had his first-time strike from Jack Jewsbury's feed in the 78th minute been a tad lower and a little bit to the left.
HEATH PEARCE (Chivas USA): Pearce has evolved into the Goats' leader in central defense, but he was back at right back -- the spot he played last season at FC Dallas and started in this season for Chivas -- and was victim to all the space in midfield that United exploited, product of Red Bulls coach Backe's misguided 4-3-3 system. Should have closed down a little better on Danny Welback's strike for the fourth goal.
Red Bull Arena (Harrison, N.J.)
MLS All-Stars 0, Manchester United (England) 4
MU -- Anderson (Wayne Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov) 20
MU -- Ji-Sung Park (Patrice Evra) 45
MU -- Dimitar Berbatov 52
MU -- Danny Welback (Anderson) 68
MLS All-Stars: Faryd Mondragon (Tally Hall, 46; Kasey Keller, 83); Sean Franklin (Heath Pearce, 46), Jamison Olave (Geoff Cameron, 38), Tim Ream (Matt Besler, 76), Bobby Convey (Corey Ashe, 62); David Beckham, Shalrie Joseph (Kyle Beckerman, 46), Brad Davis (Jack Jewsbury, 62); Omar Cummings (Nick LaBrocca, 46), Omar Bravo (Juan Agudelo, 81), Thierry Henry (Chris Wondolowski, 46).
Manchester United: Anders Lindegaard (Ben Amos, 46); Phil Jones, Nemanja Vidic (Mame Biram Diouf, 73), Rio Ferdinand (Chris Smalling, 61), Patrice Evra; Ashley Young (Danny Welback, 61), Michael Carrick (Tom Cleverley, 61), Anderson (Fabio, 73), Park Ji-Sung (Nani, 61); Dimitar Berbatov (Michael Owen, 61), Wayne Rooney (Federico Macheda, 61).
Yellow cards: None.
Referee: Jair Marrufo. Att.: 26,760.
MVP: Park Ji-Sung (Manchester United)