HARRISON, N.J. -- As a show, the Major League Soccer All-Star Game makes for pretty good theater. The league brings in a high-profile European team and puts its best players on display.
It's good for the league's profile when the MLS side wins, as it regularly did in the first several years of this format. But in the last two years, MLS is taking a beating.
That's what happens when you play Manchester United.
The MLS All-Stars were humbled for the second consecutive season in their annual showcase game. This time, Anderson had a goal and an assist to lead Manchester United to a 4-0 victory in front of 26,760 on Wednesday night at Red Bull Arena. Manchester United won last season's matchup, 5-2.
"No excuses. You lose 4-nil and that's a lot," MLS All-Stars head coach Hans Backe said. "I thought we deserved a better result."
The Red Bulls coach had two of his players -- forward Thierry Henry and defender Tim Ream -- in the starting lineup. Backe also was able to insert teenage sensation Juan Agudelo in the 81st minute, to the delight of the home fans. Henry was substituted at halftime and Ream was removed in the 76th minute, receiving a hearty cheer as he left the field.
The MLS All-Stars had their best chance to score in the 64th minute. Chris Wondolowski cranked a shot from 25 yards that hit Manchester United goalkeeper Ben Amos in the right arm and caromed into the path of Nick LaBrocca, but the Chivas USA forward sent what should have been a sitter wide of the right post.
Manchester United showed why it is regarded as one of the top teams in the world. The Red Devils scored two in the first half, including a goal by Park Ji-Sung that made it 2-0 about a minute before halftime. Prior to that, Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov combined on a nifty bit of passing that freed up Anderson for the game's first goal in the 20th minute.
"I wouldn't be against it," Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said, when asked if he'd want to play again in the future. "I think the standard of play has risen."
Before Ji-Sung's goal, the MLS All-Stars had represented themselves well against one of the top clubs in the world. The All-Stars had more of the first-half possession, but had trouble finding space in the final third of the field.
Most of the MLS chances were from long-range. David Beckham cracked a swerving shot from 25 yards that was sent over the crossbar by Manchester United goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard in the 22nd minute. Brad Davis shot from nearly the same spot in the 29th minute and Lindegaard again was there to send the ball over the bar. Davis had a chance from close-range in the 19th minute, but wound up taking an off-balance shot that Lindegaard easily handled.
NOTES: While Henry and Ream got hearty ovations from their home fans during the pregame introductions, the loudest response went to Beckham, who starred at Manchester United for 12 seasons.