Work in Sports
Snubbed Diallo shines in East victory in All-Star game
COLUMBUS, Ohio (CNNSI.com) -- Mamadou Diallo made his point in the span of six minutes at the Major League Soccer All-Star Game on Saturday.
Perhaps next year, he'll make the starting lineup -- that is, if MLS can manage to hold onto its leading scorer until next year.
The Tampa Bay Mutiny striker, left out of the starting lineup in fan balloting, earned MVP honors by scoring two goals and adding an assist to help the East defeat the West 9-4 Saturday.
Diallo entered the game in the second half and sparked the East's outburst of six unanswered goals. Both of his goals and the assist came between the 59th and 65th minutes.
East coach Octavio Zambrano of the MetroStars selected Diallo for the reserves, as some MLS players and officials were upset because the league's top three scorers were bypassed in the voting.
"I feel proud," the Senegal-born Diallo said. "But maybe today I showed that the voting system should be changed.
"I'm very happy to play in my first All-Star Game," said Diallo, who left with a lower back strain after playing 22 minutes. "It doesn't matter if you play 90 minutes or 10 minutes, if you are a good player you can do something."
Diallo snapped a 4-4 deadlock 14 minutes into the second half after chasing down a pass by Mutiny teammate Carlos Valderrama and beating West goalkeeper Zach Thornton.
Two minutes later, Diallo took another Valderrama pass and dribbled around Thornton on a breakaway to send the East ahead 6-4. Diallo then assisted on Jay Heaps' goal in the 65th minute, dribbling in from the left wing and sending in a short cross.
"Diallo is not only about power and strength," Zambrano said. "He is a flashy player who likes to do other things and have fun with the game. I definitely think he is one of the best."
Valderrama had four assists in the second half. A former star of Colombia's national team, Valderrama leads the league with a record 20 assists and received the highest total of All-Star votes from fans.
The standing-room crowd of 23,495 didn't have to wait long to see a goal at Columbus Crew Stadium, which was itself one of the stars of the show as the only stadium built specifically for MLS.
Clint Mathis put the East up 1-0 in the second minute off a pass from MetroStars teammate Mark Chung.
"This was such an exciting day for the players and the fans," Mathis said. "It was nice to get the scoring started for both sides."
The West stormed back to take a 3-1 lead after Chicago's Ante Razov, who has notched three goals in his last four games with the U.S. national team, tallied in the 17th and 22nd minutes off passes from Los Angeles' Cobi Jones.
Kansas City's Preki was credited with a secondary assist on Razov's first goal, making him the only player to get a point in all five All-Star games.
In between Razov's goals, Jones assisted on a give-and-go play with Mauricio Cienfuegos, who scored in the 19th minute.
The West took a 4-3 lead into halftime after Peter Nowak scored off Jones' fourth primary assist.
"We came out in the second half and pretty much fell apart," Preki said. "We had few chances early on but didn't score, and it looked like every time they went down the field, they scored."
Columbus teammates Dante Washington and Brian McBride scored the game's final two goals, celebrating with Crew fans in the north stands.
Both starting goalkeepers reentered the All-Star Game as forwards in the closing minutes of play. Mike Ammann entered the game wearing the No. 19 jersey of MetroStars teammate Daniel Hernandez, who is out for the season with a torn ACL.
The West's Tony Meola broke in on goal in the 81st minute, but could not beat East keeper Scott Garlick from 10 yards out.
"I hate to be scored on in the first place, but especially by another goalkeeper," Garlick said. "I know I would have been having nightmares."
Garlick made seven saves to earn a shutout and the victory in the second half. Garlick's second half stand set a new All-Star record for saves made, edging out Jorge Campos' six-save performance in 1997.
The East set another All-Star record as 11 different players registered at least one point. The previous high was 10, set by the U.S. side in 1998.
The East has won three out of four All-Star games against the West (a team of U.S. All-Stars beat a team of MLS players from other countries in 1998).
Saturday's total of 13 goals topped the scoring record set last year, when the West won 6-4.
With plans to expand by two teams in 2002 and existing teams looking for cozier venues, the MLS selected Crew Stadium, its only soccer-specific site, for the All-Star game in hopes of inspiring other teams to plan similar projects.
"Our goal is to try to build as many stadiums like this as we can and push our investor-operators to recognize that it will work if you build it," league commissioner Don Garber said.
WEST --Tony Meola (Zach Thornton 46), Robin Fraser (Peter Vermes 46), Greg
Vanney, Marcelo Balboa, Khodadad Azizi (Chris Henderson 46) (Tony Meola 80,
Zach Thornton 46), Preki (Khodadad Azizi 67, Tony Meola 80), Mauricio
Cienfuegos (Luis Hernandez 46), Peter Nowak (Dario Brose 46), Chris Armas (Matt
McKeon 32), Ante Razov (Jason Kreis 46), Cobi Jones (Ariel Graziani 46)
EAST --Mike Ammann (Scott Garlick 46), Eddie Pope (Mike Clark 32), Lothar
Matthaus (Jay Heaps 46), Jeff Agoos (Mike Petke 34), John Harkes, Jaime Moreno
(Brian McBride 46), Steve Ralston (Pablo Mastroeni 34), Carlos Valderrama, Mark
Chung (Mike Ammann 88, Scott Garlick 46), Clint Mathis (Mamadou Diallo 46),
Adolfo Valencia (Dante Washington 46)
Referee: Paul Tamberino; Referee's Assistants: George Vergara, Robert Fereday
The Associated Press contributed to this report.