United fall short in Toronto

MLS All-Stars 3-2 West Ham United

West Ham United were edged out in a five-goal thriller against the MLS All-Stars that saw Dean Ashton score twice only for MVP Cuauhtemoc Blanco to steal the show.

At a packed BMO Field in Toronto on Thursday night, Ashton had fired the opener midway through the first half but a sublime back-heel from Blanco set up Christian Gomez almost immediately. The veteran Mexican playmaker then struck a wonder goal just before half-time when he tricked his way into the penalty area. Blanco's work was done and although Ashton levelled matters in the 67th minute with a deflected long-range shot, Dwayne De Rosario won it with a penalty soon afterwards.

The match, in front of more than 20,000 noisy fans, was a welcome step up for Alan Curbishley's men after the 4-2 and 3-1 wins against Hampton and Richmond Borough and Columbus Crew respectively in the first two matches of pre-season. As well as Ashton's strikes, the positives were plenty. Carlton Cole impressed on his first start of the summer while Matthew Etherington and Luis Boa Morte got a welcome 45 minutes apiece on the left flank. The night will also be remembered by Joe Widdowson, with the 19-year-old defender marking David Beckham.

The home crowd was largely made up of Toronto FC supporters, who with their constant chants and incessant singing made for an atmosphere that was reminiscent of cup games in England. Although the MLS All-Stars are deep into their season, United kept going until the end - not least the strong-running Scott Parker. The team will travel back to England on Friday night, after a community session at the BMO Field, and then have some welcome rest before a busy schedule resumes next week. First up is a trip to Peterborough United on Tuesday before heading to Cambridge United the following evening.