MATCH REPORT: MLS ALL-STARS 3 CHELSEA 2
Chelsea suffered a first defeat of pre-season on Wednesday night in Philadelphia, thanks to an injury time winner for the MLS.
It was former Fulham man Eddie Johnson who netted, via a deflection off David Luiz, though it was another pleasing workout for the Blues.
The home side took the lead in a slightly subdued affair when Chris Wondolowski, the league's top scorer, netted after 20 minutes but John Terry's header brought Chelsea level before half-time, and when Frank Lampard capitalised on a goalkeeping error before the hour it looked as though Chelsea would be home and dry, only for the MLS to level 18 minutes from time through substitute Chris Pontius.
From there neither side really threatened, until Johnson was released with 90 minutes on the clock, and when his shot deflected up off David Luiz, goalkeeper Ross Turnbull was helpless to stop it.
Roberto Di Matteo said senior players would be heavily involved in this fixture and so it proved, though Petr Cech was given a night off in goal. Terry and Gary Cahill started in central defence while Michael Essien and Lampard were the deeper midfield pair. Yossi Benayoun, absent in New York, joined Marko Marin and Ramires as a supporting cast to lone forward Romelu Lukaku.
For the All-Stars, both David Beckham and Henry started.
Hilario was the first of the two goalkeepers in action, plucking a Beckham cross high in the air after Terry had handballed on the Chelsea left.
At the other end Marin released Lukaku through the middle but before he could shoo the Belgian was excellently tackled by former Watford defender Jay DeMerit.
The game was by no means living up to the noise being generated at either end of the compact PPL Park, at the River End the local Philadelphia Union fans, at the other Chelsea.
It came to life after 20 minutes though when Henry sent a bending cross into the away area that left Terry stretching to clear, eventually playing the ball into Wondolowski who slotted home from four yards to give the home side the lead.
It was another 10 minutes before the Blues, playing in our new white away kit, levelled, with our first shot on target.
Lampard's half-volley following good work from Ashley Cole and Marin had been deflected behind, and when the England midfielder's corner came into the box there was a familiar outcome. John Terry rose the highest and directed his header into the top corner of the net.
Marin worked MLS goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen again with a rangy drive five minutes before half-time, and Henry almost bent into Hilario's top corner shortly afterwards, just clipping the side netting from 25 yards, but genuine excitement was hard to come by. Beckham was showing he could still play with some intelligent passing in his old familiar style, but it was all from deep and not damaging to Chelsea.
The half-time whistle probably came as a relief to everyone, not least the home side's drummer, who had been busy throughout the first period.
Four changes for Chelsea at half-time saw the goalkeeper, the goalscorer, Cole and Yossi Benayoun all withdrawn, replaced with Hilario, David Luiz, Paulo Ferreira and Florent Malouda.
Lukaku side-footed over moments into the second period, while Beckham, after winning a light-hearted argument with Henry, was allowed a free-kick that he bent into the wall.
MLS substitute keeper Dan Kennedy saved superbly from Lampard on 57 minutes after Marin had played another slide-rule pass through the home defence, but within 30 seconds the goalkeeper was at fault to allow Chelsea into the lead.
Ramires chipped a cross into the area from the right, Kennedy misjudged its flight and left his goal open for Lampard to send a controlled half-volley into the empty net from four yards.
More substitutions followed, meaning first match action of the summer for Raul Meireles, while Branislav Ivanovic became the first player of the tour to play a full 90 minutes.
It was through the right-back's channel that the MLS equaliser would come on 72 minutes. Beckham sprayed a trademark long ball over Ivanovic's head to Dwayne De Rosario, who cut inside and laid back into the path of onrushing sub Chris Pontius, who calmly side-footed beyond Ross Turnbull.
De Rosario, the Canadian captain of the All-Stars, went close to putting his side in front when he curled a free-kick onto the roof of the net that had half the capacity crowd on its feet.
Eden Hazard's cross towards compatriot Kevin De Bruyne looked like it was going to bring a Chelsea winner, but Kennedy did well to punch to safety.
Two minutes from time Malouda's cross was blocked at point blank range by the hand of defender Steven Beitashour, but there was little chance of a penalty being awarded at that stage of the game.
But just when it looked as if we were headed for a shootout, the MLS broke and scored what for long periods in the second half had looked an unlikely winner.
Kyle Beckerman played a direct ball towards former Fulham forward Eddie Johnson, who ran direct at David Luiz and turned the defender the wrong way before shooting for goal. The ball struck the Brazilian defender's leg, looping up over Turnbull and into the empty net.
There would be one chance to claw something back, David Luiz stepping up for a free-kick 25 yards from goal, but with the last kick of the game he drove directly into the wall and so there was a first defeat of pre-season.
The result will mean more this side of the Atlantic than it does back home, and Roberto Di Matteo will be pleased to have given his players another testing workout. Now it is on to Miami and a date with AC Milan on Saturday.
MLS All-Stars (4-1-2-1-2): Nielsen (Kennedy h-t); Beitashour, Collin (Valdes 35), DeMerit, Morrow (Corrales 56); Alonso (Beckerman 56); Beckham (Farfan 74), Donovan (Pontius h-t); De Rosario (c); Henry (Zusi 56), Wondolowski (Johnson 59).
Goals Wondolowski 21, Pontius 72, Johnson 90+1
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Hilario (Turnbull h-t); Ivanovic, Cahill (Chalobah 74), Terry (c) (David Luiz h-t), Cole (Ferreira h-t); Essien (Mikel 60), Lampard (Meireles 60); Ramires (Hazard 60), Marin (Piazon 60), Benayoun (Malouda h-t); Lukaku (De Bruyne 74).
Goals Terry 31, Lampard 58
Referee Baldomero Toledo