Declan Rice, a new midfield sensation for Arsenal, came on as a second-half replacement and contributed to the team’s 5-0 triumph over the MLS All-Stars on Wednesday. Among the many red-clad Arsenal supporters present at Audi Field, Gabriel Jesus, Leandro Trossard, Jorginho, Gabriel Martinelli, and Kai Havertz all scored goals, but they weren’t the only highlights for them.
Last weekend, Rice transferred from West Ham to the Gunners for a British transfer record cost of 105 million pounds ($138 million). Just over an hour into the game, the fans erupted as he entered, and they cheered once more when he had the ball in his possession.
At the same time as Rice entered the game for the London club, striker Folarin Balogun of the United States national team, whose time at Arsenal may be up, also did so.
The Gunners were up 3-0 at that point.
“I think we were suffocated with the weather … and we could not really control the game,” Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said. “But it’s true that we were exceptional in both boxes today. Every time we got in the final third in good position, we put the ball in the back of the net.”
This style typically produces competitive games with more defending than some previous All-Star events, with the MLS defeating teams like Chelsea and Bayern Munich in the past. Before halftime, the MLS team—which omitted Lionel Messi, a recent addition to Miami—was shown four yellow cards.
“I thought the referee made the game a little bit about himself once again,” Rooney said.
“I think that’s something that needs improving in the MLS. I’ve said it all season, so it’s a good opportunity for me to bring it up again.”
Jesus scored the game’s first goal in the fifth minute with a gorgeous chip. His attempt from outside the box flew past St. Louis keeper Roman Burki and rebounded off the left post.
In the 23rd minute, Trossard scored another goal from outside the box, this time a little further towards the middle and with greater force than Jesus’ attempt.
Early in the second half, Trossard was shaken up and taken off the pitch.
After the break, Jorginho made it 3-0 after St. Louis defender Tim Parker was penalised for a handball in the penalty area. Late goals from Martinelli and Havertz increased the lead to five goals.
“Arsenal showed the quality which they have,” said former Manchester United star and current D.C. United coach Wayne Rooney, who led the MLS team. “I thought the All-Star lads, a little bit nervous and hesitant, especially first half when we got into some good areas.”
Another newcomer to Arsenal is Havertz, who was acquired from Chelsea.
“He gives you something very different, with quality, with his size as well, when you have to beat the press for example, and use him as an attacking man” Arteta said. “I’m sure throughout the season and throughout games as well, we are going to have the option to use him in different positions.”
Along with Balogun, American defender Auston Trusty played for Arsenal late in the match.
“I think they deserved to enjoy that moment and get that recognition and play in front of their crowds,” Arteta said.
Arsenal plays friendlies against Manchester United on Saturday in East Rutherford, New Jersey, and vs Barcelona on July 26 in Inglewood, California, in preparation for its Premier League debut against Nottingham Forest on August 12.