CHESTER, PA - JULY 25: Eddie Johnson #9 of MLS All-Stars celebrates with teammates after scoring a go-ahead goal late in the second half against Chelsea during the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game at PPL Park on July 25, 2012 in Chester, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Chelsea suffered their first loss of the preseason with a 3-2 defeat against the MLS All-Stars. Six years ago, the Blues, then lead by Jose Mourinho, were defeated 1-0 in the same match, although this one was far more compelling. A back and forth game saw both sides lead, and it looked like the match would go to penalties before Seattle Sounders striker Eddie Johnson's deflected effort in injury time saw the hosts pull out a victory.
Although Chelsea looked more or less in control of things to start the match, the Blues ended up down 1-0 in the 21st minute thanks to San Jose Earthquakes striker Chris Wondolowski (who's been scoring for fun in the MLS all year). Landon Donovan broke the Blues' line with a pass between Gary Cahill and Branislav Ivanovic, and while Thierry Henry's cross was clearable, John Terry only managed to volley it straight into Wondolowski, and the poacher recovered first to slot past Hilario.
Terry made up for his error ten minutes later, nodding home a corner after fine work from Frank Lampard, who both won it and took it. The captain rose above a crowd of players to smack home a far-post delivery, with Jimmy Neilson left completely helpless by the power of the header. Romelu Lukaku would probably have converted had Terry not been there -- it was pretty pathetic defending on the All-Stars' part.
Despite the goals, it wasn't a particularly aggressive first half from either team. Chelsea played within themselves, and their hosts were simply looking for quick counterattacks and getting as many men behind the ball as possible. In general, they did reasonably well at containing the Blues, with the Vancouver Whitecaps' Jay DeMerit looking highly impressive. Marko Marin's direct style was probably the biggest Chelsea threat, but his habit of getting cute rather than shooting prevented him from doing too much damage.
Things changed at halftime as the Blues got far more aggressive, pushing the fullbacks higher up the pitch and generally looking to apply far more pressure to the MLS back line. It was clear that Chelsea posed a major problem playing like this, and new goalkeeper Dan Kennedy was forced into a flying save early on after an excellent Marin pass had set Lampard clean through.
The midfielder, captain after Terry's replacement at half-time, was not to be denied, and he netted from the resultant corner. Ramires' long cross sucked the entire defence to the centre, and Lampard was unmarked to tap in at the far post. It was 2-1 Chelsea and the Blues looked set to press on for the win.
That wasn't to be, however, as a Chris Pontius goal levelled matters in the 73rd minute. Old friend David Beckham got the move started with a gorgeous ball through the MLS left channel (Andre Villas-Boas may have gone, but some of his demons remain), picking out Dwayne de Rosario before the reigning MVP cut the ball back for the run of Pontius. For some reason, the midfielders -- John Obi Mikel and Raul Meireles, by this point -- hadn't bothered to track his run, and the DC United forward finished superbly to make it 2-2.
An end-to-end game followed. Chelsea, as expected, had the better of the chances, but their strategy of 'lump crosses towards Lucas Piazon' left something to be desired, and eventually the Blues were made to pay as Johnson exploited more blergh defending to break free in injury time. He turned David Luiz before the Brazilian recovered to block the shot, but the ball took a crazy deflection and looped over Ross Turnbull for a goal. At least the match wasn't going to go to penalties.
David Luiz tried to make up for it with a crazy run down the length of the pitch, and would have found himself free on goal if not for a cynical foul by Kyle Beckerman. The resultant free kick was smacked straight into the wall in the last action of the game, and Chelsea ended up coming out as 3-2 losers. AC Milan in Florida on Saturday before the Blues head home. That wasn't a great performance, but hey, preseason.