|Juan Toja of FC Dallas goes over Celtic FC's Kenny Miller en route to his first-half goal in the All-Star Game in Colorado. (DAVID ZALUBOWSKI/ASSOCIATED PRESS)|
Angel, Toja lead win over Celtic FC
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. -- While David Beckham is the headliner, players like Juan Pablo Angel and Juan Toja could be every bit as important to the future of soccer in America.
The two Colombians, who came to the States this season to play in Major League Soccer, each scored goals last night to lift the MLS All-Stars to a 2-0 victory over Celtic FC.
Beckham wore a suit, watched from the commissioner's suite, and made a brief appearance on the field between halves. During a halftime interview, he said his much-anticipated debut tomorrow with the Los Angeles Galaxy could be delayed by a nagging left ankle injury that has been slow in healing.
Nobody wants to rush it because he's here for the long term -- five years, over which he'll earn $32.5 million and become the top ambassador for soccer in a country that has simply refused to embrace the sport over the decades.
"For one of the biggest sporting nations in the world not to have soccer as one of its top three sports is pretty amazing," Beckham said. "So, if I can help grow the game here, then I want to be part of that."
Angel, the All-Star MVP, took the same leap of faith this year, bidding adieu to Aston Villa of the English Premier League to play for the New York Red Bulls. He might be the best player in MLS, though neither his arrival nor his contract ($1.5 million a year) is on the level of what Beckham has received.
But players like Angel will be important if MLS is to start being recognized around the world as more than a minor league.
More than just Beckham's arrival, it's the overall quality of play that figures to make or break this league in the long run, as soccer aficionados decide whether to pay attention and top soccer players decide if they want to forgo established leagues around the world to play at places like
A crowd of 18,661 saw the MLS boys put on a pretty good show against Celtic FC, which is the two-time defending champion of the Scottish Premier League.
In the 36th minute, Angel took a pass from Dwayne De Rosario, made a nice move past goalie Artur Boruc, and tapped the ball to the back of the net with his left foot for a 1-0 lead. Later in the first half, a free kick led to a scramble and Toja came up with the ball and had a wide-open look at the net to make it 2-0.