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In defense of the current MLS All-Star format; Don’t change a thing!

Jul 31, 2013, 7:18 PM EDT

Sporting Park

KANSAS CITY – I know that Joe Prince-Wright has advocated a return to the old East-West format. But I suspect my PST colleague has an ulterior motive.

You see, if MLS went all “back to the future” on that one, Joe would probably have a reasonable chance of landing on one of the rosters! I mean, I hear he’s not too bad.

Long story short here, I love the current format. And when Don Garber asks me for my opinion – which is almost sure to happen; I’m a little surprised he hasn’t gotten around to it already – I’ll insist that it never changes.

The first reason, as noted above, is about protecting quality. I remember the former games and how so many performers were All-Stars only in the academic sense that they had secured an invitation to participate in an All-Star event.  But they weren’t All-Stars in the more typical use of the language, in the way we see best-and-brightest types.

(MORE: MLS All-Star preview vs. AS Roma)

In truth, there were too many participants who were too far from ‘something special’ quality. True, there are more teams MLS today, all with larger rosters than before. All of that serves to increase the selection pool, which can only elevate that overall standard of All-Star.

On the other hand, I just don’t see 40 MLS men today who look and feel like the difference maker a true All-Star should be. There will be something of a dropoff between the first and second MLS teams Wednesday at Sporting Park that I would put somewhere near “noticeable.”

Otherwise, I love the way this format distinguishes itself from others, importing a big brand from overseas or Mexico to challenge a team that best represents top-shelf MLS stuff.

The East-West formats are a bit stale, but what choice do these other sports have? Major League Soccer’s chosen format exploits an opportunity the NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB simply doesn’t have. It doesn’t need changing or improving.

Moreover, by including the likes of AS Roma, Chelsea, Manchester United, etc., organizers stand a chance of adding fans to the MLS brand, supporters of the game who otherwise might not tune into league action.

Believe it: anybody who watches enough of Wednesday night’s match may or may not emerge impressed with any MLS All-Stars, and fair enough. But if they aren’t a little moved by the amazing ground just outside Kansas City, then they aren’t fans worth having. Truly, Sporting Park (pictured) is a gem – and the money spent, about $200 million, should say something about the ongoing, passionate commitment.

That has to mean something.

  1. talgrath - Jul 31, 2013 at 7:36 PM

    One aspect you missed, that I think is worth pointing out (and I did on the comments of the other article) is that nobody plays hard in most All-Star (or whatever they want to call them) games for fear of injury. The Pro Bowl alwyas features blow-outs since nobody really wants to play defense that hard, MLB will have a pitcher only one inning so they aren’t really going full swing at it and you don’t see a lot of guys really going for it. The MLS all stars game has league pride on the line though; it’s still a friendly, but a friendly in which both sides have some skin in the game. If the visiting side loses badly to the MLS All Stars, they were blown out by “second tier” soccer players; if the MLS all stars lose badly, then even the best of MLS were no match for a “real” soccer team.

  2. jerichowhiskey - Jul 31, 2013 at 8:11 PM

    Looking through the years, we have won our fair share of games against foreign teams. It seems many have short memories and can only remember what ManU, arguably one of the few best teams in the world, beating us. Anyone who pays attention to MLS knows it is not a top league yet, so the exposure of that “inferiority” should not bother anyone.

    I mean come on! We beat UCL champions Chelsea last year.

  3. midtec2005 - Jul 31, 2013 at 11:02 PM

    I had to quite watching just now, the game is terrible. The MLS team has never played together. I think the format is stupid. Regular MLS teams do better against European teams than the all-star team is. Especially when some of the all-stars (I’m looking at you, Corey Ashe) decide that they don’t care.

    The real solution is to just not have an all-star game.

  4. midtec2005 - Jul 31, 2013 at 11:09 PM

    Not to mention Pjanic is a complete asshat. If he tackled me like he did LD there would have been some major problems, talk about unprofessional.

  5. jshalonzo - Aug 1, 2013 at 2:54 PM

    I think this format is great! I was actually at the game last night, and it was highly competitive! Isn’t that what any true soccer fan wants? If its East v West, it just turns into a game where nobody plays defense. Both teams would combine for 20+ goals. Also, if its East v West, who do the fans cheer for? Nobody! Or should I say EVERYBODY!!! The fans would be there to just watch a show like the NBA All-Star game. That’s why there’s no defense in that game! The fans are there just to see dunks-galore, and the players know it! The NBA All-Star game turns into an AND1 Streetball game. The atmosphere last night was great! Just like when the USMNT plays at Sporting Park. All the fans wanted to see an MLS All-Stars victory! You wouldn’t have that kind of atmosphere if it was East v West. Do

  6. hildezero - Aug 3, 2013 at 12:38 AM

    @midtech

    You’re dumb if you think this ASG format sucks. This is the best format the MLS can come up with.

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