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July Wrap-Up: MLS proves they can compete with the best in hectic month
In a very eventful month of July for Major League Soccer, the league and its teams proved they could compete against some of the best in the world. MLS clubs faced off against top clubs from Europe as Real Madrid, Chelsea FC, AC Milan and Fulham FC all visited the US on preseason tours.

The Los Angeles Galaxy were first up on the list of MLS sides taking on European powers as they took on Spanish giant Real Madrid on July 18th. The Galaxy came out and quickly put Madrid under pressure, but were unable to create any good scoring opportunities without their leading scorer Landon Donovan, who was with the US for the Gold Cup. Madrid took the lead in just the 6th minute when Zinedine Zidane sent a perfect pass to an unmarked Michael Owen, who buried it giving goalkeeper Kevin Hartman no chance. Hartman had an excellent game, recording seven saves. Madrid continued to put the pressure on the Galaxy after that, but poor shooting and good goal keeping kept the game close. The Galaxy went into half time still down just a goal and put pressure on Madrid to start the second half. A Jovan Kirvoski free kick from 25 yards out forced a diving save from ‘keepr Iker Casillas. Madrid finished the scoring in the 75th minute, when Roberto Soldado received the ball from Luis Figo and sent a blast from 18 yards out into the lower-left corner of the net. Despite losing 2-0, the Galaxy left with their heads held high, knowing they played well against a team with an estimated payroll of $300 million annually, while the Galaxy’s is an estimated $2.5 million ($1 million of it made up by the unavailable Landon Donovan).

On July 27th two teams had a shot at European opponents with the Chicago Fire taking on Italian power and European Champions League runners-up AC Milan, while the Columbus Crew faced mid-table English Premier League side, Fulham FC. The Fire had more chances than AC Milan (who were missing a few key players) and really made Milan look ordinary. Chicago could count themselves unlucky falling 3-1 to Milan. Christian Vieri tallied first for Milan in the 21st minute, but the Fire had an instant reply with Chris Rolfe scoring just seconds later. Milan took the lead in the second half against the run of play, when Alberto Gilardino scored in 76th minute. With both sides having subbed out nearly their entire starting line-up, Milan finished off the scoring deep into stoppage time with a Serginho goal. Milan can count themselves lucky to have avoided an upset, being out-shot 14 to 10.

MLS cellar-dwellers, the Columbus Crew, managed to get a 2-1 victory over English Premier League club Fulham FC. Columbus took the lead in the 17th minute, when Marcus Storey headed home a cross from Danny Szetela. It took an own goal to get Fulham on the scoresheet, when Szetela mistakenly tapped a Luis Boa Morte pass to no one, into his own net in the 43rd minute. The Crew scored the game winner in the 86th minute, when Domenic Mediate scored off a poor clearance by Zesh Rehman.

Defending MLS Champions DC United had the toughest challenge on July 28th, facing off against arguably the best team in the world, Chelsea FC, the defending English Premier League champions. In a surprisingly even affair, United took the lead in 31st minute, when an unmarked Bobby Boswell headed home a corner kick from Christian Gomez. Damien Duff tied the score for Chelsea in the 35th minute, when his volley from close range off of a Shaun Wright-Phillips cross left ‘keeper Nick Rimando with no chance. A poor turnover by DC led to Chelsea taking the lead in the 57th minute, when Arjen Robben intercepted a pass, then sprung Hernan Crespo free of the defense. Crespo ran into the box and slotted it home for the game winning goal. DC had a chance in the 89th minute, but after a goal mouth scramble the ball was finally cleared out of the box by Chelsea. It was a great moment for the league and DC seeing United give Chelsea a very competitive match.

The month finished off with the MLS All-Stars taking on Fulham in the 2005 MLS All-Star game on August 30th. The All-Stars dominated the match and took the lead in the 23rd minute, when Taylor Twellman hit a perfectly placed shot after receiving a pass from Landon Donovan. Fulham tied it up on a penalty kick in the 36th minute when midfielder Claus Jensen sent goalkeeper Matt Reis the wrong way with his shot. MLS took their lead back in the 56th minute when Ronnie O’Brien deflected a Clint Dempsey shot, which seemed destined for the net anyways, past keeper Jaroslav Drobny. Jeff Cunningham then came off the bench and used his speed to score two insurance goals in the 85th and 89th minutes, giving MLS a 4-1 victory.

Despite MLS sides pulling out victories in only two of the five matches against European teams, MLS proved their clubs could compete with the best in the world.

The month also saw the league standings tighten as the New England Revolution and FC Dallas are now tied on points at the top of the Eastern and Western Conferences with the Chicago Fire and San Jose Earthquakes, respectfully.

League Commissioner Don Garber gave his State of the League address on July 29th. Garber talked about starting up youth systems similar to those of European teams, as well as a possible schedule change in the distant future to comply with the international schedule. He also mentioned the league’s plans to add two more teams in 2007, with Toronto, Houston, Cleveland, Milwaukee and St. Louis leading the list of candidates. “Our ultimate goal is to be an 18-team league across the United States and Canada at some point in the future,” Garber said. Participation in South American’s club championship, the Copa Libertadores was mentioned as a possibility in the future.

On July 28th, DC United, the most accomplished club in MLS history, was sold by the Anschutz Entertainment Group to a group of local investors for a record fee. The undisclosed fee is reported to be well over $25 million. The month also saw the US Men’s National Soccer Team, led largely by MLS players, win the North American and Carribean CONCACAF Gold Cup.
July 31, 2005 Sean Donahue


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Salt Lake 0
Columbus 0

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New England 0
Toronto 0

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DC United 0
Kansas City Wizards 0

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Houston 0
Chivas USA 0

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New York 0
Dallas 0

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Colorado 0
Chicago 0

Team Name Pts
Chicago 3
Columbus 1
New York 1
DC United 0
Kansas City 0
New England 0
Toronto 0

Team Name Pts
Dallas 4
Chivas USA 3
Colorado 3
Houston 1
Los Angeles 1
Salt Lake 1

Top Ten Scorers
Top 10 Scorers
Player Name Gls
Ruiz 2
Cooper 2
Cunningham 2
Kljestan 1
Brown 1
Emilio 1
H. Gomez 1
Findley 1
Razov 1
Pause 1