The push to include big-name players in the MLS All-Star Game (Yes, I'm referring to Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard--both of whom have pulled out) diminishes the value of the marquee event. Regardless, being named as one of the league's best is still an honor. (If you don't believe me, watch Drew Moor's reaction to being named as an All Star for the first time in his 12-year career.) With this in mind, it's a shame that Chris Tierney, who withdrew due to injury on Tuesday, won't be in Colorado to face Tottenham Hotspur.
An eight-year veteran of the league, Tierney learned that he was an All Star ahead of the New England Revolution's game against New York City FC on Jul. 18. Recognized for the first time in his career, it was clear when Tierney spoke to media that he was honored by the nod.
"I was surprised, to be quite honest," Tierney told RevolutionSoccer.net. "Definitely unexpected. But it feels great to be recognized by other people within the game. It gives me a lot of validation for what I feel like is a lot of hard work I’ve put in, so it feels great."
A Supplemental Draft pick in 2008, Tierney had to fight every step along the way to becoming an MLS mainstay. During his rookie campaign, the Massachusetts native was limited to six appearances, which increased to 14 the following year. From 2010-2014, Tierney featured in no less than 24 games per season.
Originally a midfielder, Tierney found a home at left back. Here, he beat out names like Kevin Alston, Didier Domi, and Seth Sinovic. Nothing was ever given to Tierney, who worked day in and day out to earn his stay.
Over the years, Tierney has put in industrious shifts, always refusing to be outworked. He also has developed a knack for the spectacular as seen when he hit a right-footed beauty this year and when he scored at last year's MLS Cup Final. Once a common target for criticism, Tierney is now beloved by Revs fans.
ESPN commentator and Revs legend Taylor Twellman used Twitter to highlight Tierney's unlikely path to becoming an MLS All Star:
In an age where big foreign signings have become the norm in MLS, the All-Star Game needs representatives like Tierney. Tierney was homegrown before the title existed. He's the type of hardworking player that this league was built on and still needs. For players like him, an All Star nomination is truly special.
It's unlikely that Tierney will lose any sleep over missing out on Wednesday's game. After all, trophies are more important than friendlies. Furthermore coach Pablo Mastroeni should be fine without Tierney, even if he was once named as the league's most accurate free kick specialists.
Still, it's a shame that we won't get to see Tierney lined up next to Kaka, David Villa, and Sebastian Giovinco since it would've been the ultimately reward for all of his efforts. Even if he won't be donning the jersey on Wednesday, we know that Tierney is an All Star.