WHAT IT MEANS: For the second straight season, the MLS All-Stars lose handily to English Premier League power Manchester United. A year ago, the final tally was 5-2 at Reliant Stadium in Houston. This time around, the score was 4-0 at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey.
In the defeat, Major League Soccer squanders another golden opportunity to earn more credibility on the national and international stage. To be fair, however, the MLS did not have a number of All-Stars available due to injury, including Los Angeles Galaxy forward Landon Donovan and New York Red Bulls defender Rafael Marquez.
EARLY PROMISE: The All-Stars went toe-to-toe with the Red Devils for most of the first half. After feeling each other out in the first few minutes of play, the MLS crew actually created more scoring chances in the first 45 minutes and change of action. But they weren't able to get a shot past Man U goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard.
Brazilian midfielder Anderson struck for Man U in the 20th minute, off assists from strikers Dimitar Berbatov and Wayne Rooney. Then disaster struck right before the halftime whistle, when fellow midfielder Ji-Sung Park pulled a pretty fake and put the ball in the back of the net, giving Manchester United an intimidating 2-0 lead at intermission.
PILING IT ON: Manchester United put the game away early in the second half, courtesy of a Berbatov goal in the 52nd minute. Sir Alex Ferguson cleared his bench soon after that, making six substitutions in the 61st minute, including the removal of Rooney and defender Rio Ferdinand. (MLS coach Hans Backe also made wholesale personnel changes prior to the start of the second half, in an effort to play as many players as he could.) The final goal of the evening came off the foot of Man U substitute striker Danny Welbeck in the 68th minute, after deflecting off an MLS defender.
ELECTRIC ATMOSPHERE: The game was a sellout -- 26,760 fans in attendance -- and the atmosphere was indeed outstanding, particularly before the game and in the first half. Manchester United's announcer from its home stadium at Old Trafford introduced the Man U starting lineup, and fireworks accompanied the U.S. national anthem.
WHAT'S NEXT: With the All-Star Game in the rearview mirrow, MLS league play will resume on Friday. But first the Red Bulls are headed to England to participate in the Emirates Cup, playing against Paris Saint-Germain on Saturday and Arsenal on Sunday. They will then resume MLS play at Real Salt Lake on Aug. 6.
Manchester United will complete its five-game U.S. tour with a rematch of the the European Champions League final in May against Barcelona, on Saturday at FedEx Field in Washington, D.C.