Tonight the "best" of Major League Soccer will square off against UEFA Champions Chelsea FC in the 2012 edition of the MLS All Star game. Since 2002 (exception 2004) to the present day the MLS All Star Game has featured the league's best against a big name club. It started with the 2002 USMNT, a great chance to capitalize off the success of the 2002 teams World Cup run and since has featured a foreign club from the top leagues in Mexico, Scotland and England.
I, for one, hate these games and would much rather see East vs West, or USL/NASL vs MLS or nothing.
I just don't get the point of them. What are these games supposed to prove? Throwing together a roster of MLS players, with limited training sessions against a European club on preseason looking to keep studs free from rust while testing the newbies to ensure they aren't duds is supposed to be fun to watch?
Say the MLS team wins...what does that really prove? It says that in a non-competitive game where there is no real incentive to win or play 100% that they can beat a team who came to the States to pump their brand and get some scrimmages in? Great. Oh don't forget MLS can sell you hideous MLS All Star jerseys for about $90 a pop!
It's clear MLS HQ wants to convert European soccer fans into MLS ones. I'm still a little confused on how exactly this does that? A Chelsea fan who doesn't follow MLS will watch tonight's match and walk away thinking two things, oddly enough it's the same two things that this game forces me to admit to myself which I don't want to believe:
- In the event Chelsea loses, the story will be how silly it is that It takes the league's best to beat a Chelsea preseason squad.
- In the event Chelsea wins, the story will be how much of a joke Major League Soccer is that its best couldn't even beat Chelsea's preseason squad.
So which one of these outcomes will make that Chelsea fan think to himself, "Hey, I need to go down and support my local Major League Soccer club." Let's say he or she does just that. The reality is for every one fan who actually walks away with an interest in Major League Soccer, thousands more will be reminded of what they already thought they knew about soccer in America.
Do the benefits of hosting these games outweigh the harm it does to the league's integrity? Is all the press, advertising revenue and selling out worth it? There is a price to pay for awareness, whether it's good or bad.
At the end of the day I see the current star All Star Game format as MLS 2.0's version of the breakaway penalty kick. It sounds great in theory, looks like an easy sell to the masses but in the end serves only to embarrass the league.
Vote below on which format you'd rather see.
Hypocrite time: Yes I will be watching and be sure to follow the live blog of tonight's match tonight with us on The Bent Musket