Friday, July 25, 2008

Elvis Lives And Is Forever Blowing Bubbles Somewhere In A Field In Toronto

MLS All-Stars v West Ham United, Dead Kenny's living room via Setanta Sports 1, Friday July 25 2008, 00.20am.

The Parallax View business expenses budget didn't quite run to sending your scuttling scribe over to Toronto, but courtesy of Dickie Branson's Virgin Media empire got to see the full game beamed into my house via Setanta Sports. My beloved Hammers are still in relatively early stages of pre-season so wasn't quite sure what to expect from them, or for that matter the Harlem Globetrotters-style opposition, who have a 100% record against British teams in these games, and now include current England international David Beckham in their ranks.

The Hammers rested Craig Bellamy and Mark Noble and the likes of Upson, McCartney and Dyer were left at home to work on their fitness, but a starting XI that included Robert Green, Lucas Neill, Anton Ferdinand, Scott Parker and Dean Ashton should have proved competitive. Indeed, after a quiet start to the game, it was the Irons that took the lead when Dean Ashton caught the All-Stars defence napping and slotted smartly past the MLS keeper. Straight after, a similar move at the other end of the pitch saw Gomes equalise, the All-Stars then continued to shine for the rest of the half, culminating in a brilliant finish from Blanco after his movement left Scotty Parker on his backside.

The MLS All-Stars' extra fitness started to tell in the second half, but a hugely impressive Dean Ashton always posed a threat, and a speculative effort from the big striker took a couple of deflections before whizzing past the keeper to level things at 2-2. Again, though, this only prompted the All-Stars to step up a gear, and Lucas Neill remembered his lines from last season and lunged like a brainless oaf in his own area to concede a penalty that was duly converted. Villa reject Juan Pablo Angel had a great strike disallowed for no apparent reason, and Boa Morte missed a sitter after smart work from Parker just before the end.

It was a much better game than expected, hugely entertaining and played in the right spirit. Obviously any defeat is dissappointing but the fitness work will be hugely beneficial at this stage of pre-season, Faubert and sub Boa Morte both did themselves favours with their commitment shown, and rookie left-back Joe Widdowson didn't look out of place against Mr. Posh Spice. Amusing cameos were provided by Elvis blowing bubbles at half-time, and Boa Morte losing it big-time after being kicked in the head by an MLS defender, much to the evident amusement of the clearly not-too-concerned Hammers physio.

Parallax View Player Ratings: Green 6; Neill 5, Ferdinand 6, Davenport 5, Widdowson 6; Faubert 7, Mullins 6, Parker 6, Etherington 6 (Boa Morte 7); ASHTON 9, Cole 5.

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