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In the summer of 2005, July 30th to be exact, historic Crew Stadium hosted the MLS All-Star Game for the second time in the stadium’s history. This match marked a new era for the MLS’s “summer classic” and was yet another significant match played on Columbus fairgrounds.
Just two years prior, MLS adapted the All-Star Game to its current format, featuring the league’s best players against a foreign professional club. In 2003, the MLS hosted Mexican giants Chivas Guadalajara in Carson, California. Despite defeating Chivas 3-1, the league struggled to attract more top-class clubs to the match. In 2004, the league was forced to revert back to the traditional “East vs. West,” which featured the Best 11 from each conference. In spite of this setback, the course of the MLS All-Star Game was forever changed in 2005.
When MLS announced that English Premier League side Fulham FC would compete against the MLS All-Stars in the 2005 game, it captured the attention of the world. Despite Fulham’s modest 13th place finish in the 2004-05 Premier League standings, the Cottagers, as they are known, were easily the biggest club to take part in the MLS All-Star Game. In addition to the club's big profile, Columbus and United State Men’s National Team superstar Brian McBride was set for a superb homecoming as he returned to the club and city where he starred before his move to England.
McBride was not the only U.S. Men’s National Team standout to suit up for Fulham that day, as Carlos Bocanegra also called Craven Cottage home for his club duties. The attraction of such a big club, mixed in with the homecoming of McBride and Bocanegra made the MLS All-Star Game a must-see event for U.S. soccer fans.
With all of the hype and buildup surrounding the game, U.S. soccer fans were anxious to see how the MLS All-Stars would perform, and they did not disappoint.
Led by a number of MLS and national team legends, including Jimmy Conrad, Greg Vanney, Frankie Hejduk, Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan and Taylor Twellman, who took home Man of the Match honors, the All-Stars jumped out to an early 1-0 lead as Twellman dispatched a Donovan pass into the net in the 23rd minute. The lead did not last long as Fulham responded in just over 10 minutes thanks to a 34th minute penalty converted by Claus Jensen.
The stalemate wore on through halftime — where Bowling For Soup rocked out on southend stage at historic Crew Stadium — until the All-Stars took back the lead when Irish international Ronnie O’Brien helped a Clint Dempsey volley find the back of the net in the 56th minute. After that goal, the MLS All-Stars didn’t look back and controlled the game from the remainder of the match.
MLS’s All-Star group capped off the victory with two goals from Columbus Crew legend Jeff Cunningham in the 85th and 86th minute. One of the all-time best scorers in MLS history, Cunningham marked his return to Columbus (where he played for from 1998-2004 and again in 2011) with two terrific goals to finish off an impressive on-field performance by the All-Stars.
As impressive as the MLS All-Stars were on the field, they were equally as impressive off the pitch. More than 23,000 MLS fans flocked to historic Crew Stadium in droves to sell out the game. In addition to the raucous atmosphere at the game, fans also attended the events surrounding the contest in large numbers, including contests between players at historic Crew Stadium and autograph sessions.
European giants like Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal, Atletico Madrid, Juventus and Tottenham Hotspur soon followed The Cottagers across the pond to take the field against MLS’s best. The 2005 All-Star Game helped signify the potential of this event and MLS on the world’s stage. As the significance of the All-Star game continues to grow, it can all be traced back to a sunny summer day in historic Crew Stadium.
Read Massive Report’s previous Crew Stadium Moments