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It’s Time For MLS To End The All-Star Game

 Its Time For MLS To End The All Star Game

Beautiful Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. A suburb of Salt Lake City was the host for this years All-Star Game which was a fantastic display of Goalkeeping we haven’t seen in a while. Both Kasey Keller & Tim Howard making diving save, after diving save to keep their sides alive for the eventual match winner that never came and all credit to Everton’s Manager David Moyes for taking this event seriously and having a little fun. Also for being a great guy when Zach Thornton got injured and allowing Keller to return to the net for the MLS All-Stars.

A fabulous penalty kick shootout showed that Kasey Keller still has it if he ever wanted to return with the National Team and Tim Howard showing why he is the starting keeper for the National Team right now. There was no reason not to name Timmy the All-Star Game MVP as he one upped Keller in the shootout. But with that being said I think it’s time to say what’s on my mind and I think some of you will be agreeing with me. It’s time to end the All-Star Game as it’s no longer a necessity.

I know that the entire population of Salt Lake City & the suburbs came to Rio Tinto Stadium to see the best of the league against one of the rising clubs of the English Premier League along with our National Team keeper to strut his stuff, but I’m sorry to say that if the past All-Star games had the best of the league involved, then they should all be apart of a club in MLS. No Designated Player Spots, no senior roster spots, no development spots. Build up a roster with talented American’s, Canadian’s, Mexican’s Central American’s, South American’s and so on and let them duke it out for ninety minutes.

There is always a problem with the schedule and it doesn’t need the continual interference of the All-Star Game as that day or that week could be used as a rest period for our players. It’s become more of a farce as DC United, Toronto FC & Red Bull NY are participating in their first leg matches in the CONCACAF Champions League qualifying round and some of their players weren’t at the match to help the league play against Everton. The All-Star game has become redundant in my eyes and as a League trying to grow in the right direction this match is no longer needed to show the clubs of Europe who are taking an American vacation to prove to them that our talent is improving. If that’s the case then what’s the purpose of qualifying for the Confederations Cup and defeating Spain two goals to nil in the Semi-Finals. How about qualifying for the World Cup and prove to the nations around the world that we can play this game.

When the league started their All-Star Game in Giants Stadium back in 1996 I always thought that we needed it to prove the country wrong that Soccer is apart of the American sports scene. Then when the format changed to bring in famed clubs or good clubs from Europe, Mexico or South America that our talent is just as strong as they are. But now it’s become a nuisances and just a waste of our time.

I’m sorry to say that the novelty has officially worn off. What needs to be done right now is to continue to make our league stronger, reducing or erasing some of the ridiculous rules that hamper our clubs to acquire players & that also means raising the salary cap to a higher & competitive level, but not break the bank. It also means in my view to make the US Open Cup an important tournament once again & to hopefully end the existence of the Superliga tournament that is also worn off quicker than the All-Star Game.

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25 Responses to It’s Time For MLS To End The All-Star Game

  1. vgallagher says:

    Here here.

    Superliga is such a waste of time. I know SUM makes money for MLS with it, but c’mon.

    US Soccer has all but abandoned the US Open Cup, which should be just as important as the FA Cup is in the UK. It could be a tremendous money maker, if it was handled properly. Time for US Soccer to up the ante with that competition, and award not only serious money, but find other motivators.

    The All Star Game is an amusement. Definitely time to end it, and just focus on soccer…not on being “legit” in the eyes of non-soccer fans and ESPN.

  2. vgallagher says:

    But man…I gotta say, Rio Tinto is fucking beautiful. I wish it had actual roofs, but otherwise, it’s awesome.

  3. eplnfl says:

    All Star games are a show piece for a league and great for the host City. Networks and the media love them in general. MLS has a scheduling problem independent of the All Star game or the lack thereof. Hitting on the right format is a issue in all All Star games unless there is some sort of natural connection, ie MLB National v. America, NFL NFC v. AFC. Even with that the players have cared less in recent years. I can remember a day when the MLB All Star game stood for something. The NFL game had to become a Island vacation to keep the players interested. The NHL has changed it’s format around in recent years to keep interest up.

    So, bottom line in my view, if it is bringing in money to the league, keep it and it’s all right for MLS to something different from a Euro league.

  4. Jon says:

    I’d argue it is actually the only All-Star game that is not a complete joke and waste of time b/c of having an actual non-league opponent involved. Have absolutely no problem with it and it does give the league a platform to make announcements and just generally show off (the stadium did look amazing) what it’s got. We don’t have to do everything European leagues do.

  5. s.y.l.c. says:

    I personally like this format of the All-Star game better than the other leagues’ because this one gives the players some reason to try and allows those new the game to learn about the players in this league that they would have no clue about (unless they watched the Gold Cup).

    The real 800 pound gorilla in the room is Superliga. The All Star Game is a 1 day thing, while Superliga potentially adds 5 matches to the schedule. The novelty of that competition wore off after the first year and the attendance this year does not compare even to most MLS matches.

  6. Adam Edg says:

    I go back and forth on the All Star game. Sometimes I think it’s worn out its welcome and other times I realize that it is a great marketing tool. Plus, All Star games are a feature that is unique to the American sports’ landscape. No other nation wholly embraces all star games like we do. Every major pro league has one: MLB, NFL, NBA, & NHL. Most minor leagues do as well: AHL, ECHL, CHL, NBADL, & Minor League Baseball. Even smaller pro leagues like the AFL, NLL, & MLL have all star games; heck, the MLL only has six teams to begin with!

    All Star games offer an “event” that is highly marketable and usually provide higher returns than regular season meetings (except maybe the Pro Bowl) as the league offers its best and brightest. Sometimes the All Star games prove that a league may have value – did you see this year’s MLL All Star game; it was awesome!
    MLS succeeds because of its unique format; it is really the only league that can pit itself agaisnt foreign competition (well maybe NHL vs KHL too). So far they have done a pretty good job of choosing teams that connect with fans on different levels. I would like to see them pretend that the EPL is not the only top-tier league and bring in some teams from Italy, Germany, Spain, etc. in the next few years. Keep it fresh!

    Of course when regular MLS sides are playing the European squads, the novelty of the MLS All Star game wears off. If LA can draw AC Milan, then I hope to god the All Stars can destroy them. It’s kind of hard for the event to be special when we, as soccer fans, know that the MLS sides can run with the pre-season Euro clubs. Still, the All Star game is more about marketing the league than catering to the hardcore fans. And I wonder how many fans would turn down an opportunity to see the league’s best in a single game vs a top level Euro club in a live setting. I know I would not (I’m thinking about scheduling my trip to Houston next summer to coincide with the game now). Thinking back to the game vs Chivas, the league hit the nail on the head with its USA vs Mexico marketing. While there are other nationalities represented, the game really is a USA vs a foreign team (with an implied superiority complex) situation.

    But what about the real USMNT? I think that at times the All Star game needs to take a break, like next summer during the World Cup. And in 2011, during the IMPORTANT Gold Cup (the off year – this year – is a joke). The league/SUM should spotlight the USMNT in lieu of an all star game. I always say the same about the NHL during the winter Olympics (which is essentially an NHL All Star tournament these days).

    I definitely think the All Star game has its place. The playoffs on the other hand…
    The regular season/Supporter’s Shield and US Open Cup should be much more important than the current MLS Cup. It’s a joke; Red Bull proved that last year…

  7. adambchildress says:

    I have to disagree as well. I thought last nights game was exciting and a great game to showcase our talents not to those in Europe but to our own people. It was competitive and for those who tune in because they can see Everton play may walk away with the thought to tune into the MLS because of the display they put on during the game.

  8. Adam Edg says:

    One thing I forgot to add is that MLS should use the All Star game as a break. It should occur on a Saturday instead of a Wednesday. Other things like CONCACAF Champions League, US Open Cup, and Superliga occur midweek. The midsummer marquee event belongs on a Saturday and the players not in the All Star game deserve the day off.

  9. DCCavalier says:

    I don’t see the All-Star game as necessary anymore either.

    For me, on one hand, you can’t insist you are Major League, if in your All-Star game you are playing a mid level European or South American club team. And that also goes for any teams that might be considered from Mexico next year. If this were baseball, it would have been the AA Southern League All-Star team against a mid level Major League Baseball team like Cleveland.

    If they are going to do ALL-Star games, either go back to East vs West, or play against NATIONAL teams of other nations. The only exception for me to play a club team that is one of the big boys whose roster is a collection of first team international players.

  10. Dave says:

    I agree with Daniel about the scheduling of the game, but this is America, and American sports fans, myself included, appreciate all star games. They’re unique and fun. If people on this site and around the soccer world want soccer to grow in the United States, then they need to tailor the sport to the American fan.

    It’s just like with playoffs. We understand divisions, playoffs, and all star games. We like those things. I like how bits and pieces of American sports culture are finding their way into MLS. We should be proud of that, not sad. Unfortunately, the big problem with last night’s game was the fact that, because of the scheduling, we only put half a team out on the field. That sucks. They need to hold the event at a time in the season when all players will be able and eligible to play.

    Also, I think it should go back to East vs. West. Let the MLS prove itself to the world in other ways. Keep the all star game as a simple exhibition of the best players in the league having some fun, and entertaining the MLS world.

  11. Tom says:

    Totally diagree with the East verse West comment. Take advantage of the fact we have a world game, plus this format means our All-Star squad is elite. Perhaps a good idea mentioned here to skip the game next year as it is a World Cup summer.

  12. DCCavalier says:

    Well, its not going to skip because of next years World Cup. It was already announced that next years game will be in Houston. They haven’t decided if its going to be a U of Houston where the Dynamo now play, or at Reliant Stadium where the NFL Texans play. I suspect, if its Club America or Chivas, they’ll try to play at the biggest place they can.

  13. EastLAChiva says:

    We can only Americanize the World sport so much.

    I don’t know if these games will be neccessary once the MLS moves to a FIFA calendar. LOL!

    In the meantime, I want to see South American clubs with superior technical players come to America to play against our slower, rigid players.

    World football fans deserve to see how the rest of the world plays. Simply contracting teams from the EPL or Europe does get stale.

    Can you imagine Sao Pablo, Boca Juniors, River Plate, Corinthians, Colo Colo, Gremio, Flamengo, San Lorenzo, Estudiantes, Intenacional?

    After our debacle in 2007 in the Copa America, we could benefit from cozying up to CONMEBOL.

  14. Rex says:

    I thought the All-Star was very entertaining this year. The game itself was great. As far a scheduling is concerned, I do agree, it just doesn’t work out. Superliga has always been a good event for Houston; attracting some of the largest crowds of the year, several of which have been 20k+. I think US Open Cup should be early in the MLS season in the spring.

  15. Dutch says:

    I agree, the all-star game is not necessary anymore. This game does not prove anything about the level of play in MLS. The real level of play can be seen in the CONCACAF Champion League play, and that is once again showing that MLS has not yet arrived.

  16. Gods own Country says:

    “The All-Star game has become redundant in my eyes and as a League trying to grow in the right direction this match is no longer needed to show the clubs of Europe who are taking an American vacation to prove to them that our talent is improving.”
    I would agree with you, but only 15-20 years down the road, when MLS have grown to be taken seriously. But right now we need this, it only helps the league being noticed by players and fans. This is also a good way to bring in new fans that have never been keen on MLS.

    “If that’s the case then what’s the purpose of qualifying for the Confederations Cup and defeating Spain two goals to nil in the Semi-Finals. How about qualifying for the World Cup and prove to the nations around the world that we can play this game.”
    This is about the reputation and growth of MLS, not American Soccer (USMNT), do not get the two mixed up.

  17. Daniel Feuerstein says:

    Gods Own Country, but MLS does help our National Team create the players so they can make the National Team and boost their career’s to Europe. So in all honesty everything does add up.

  18. Gods own Country says:

    DF, I hope you are talking about our A team, if you are then we only have couple of players that come from the MLS. But to me that is still not enough to get the league noticed by EURO fans that live in this country.
    The only problem I have is that its in the middle of the season and that one extra game we can do with out right now.
    Also, why is that we do not play our all-star game after the season, is it because every team we want to play is in full season form and they dont have time for a friendly?

  19. eplnfl says:

    To those who do not need see the for an All-Star game let me say you have friends in many other leagues who see no need either in there favorite sport. American/Canadian sports have them as a tradition and MLS should keep an American tradition as part of the American game.

    Scheduling as I said earlier remains an issue but a suggestion would be to hold it on the 4th of July every year. Let it become part of an American tradition.

  20. Joe in Indianapolis says:

    I will not be upset at all if MLS ever decides to cancel the All Star game. But then again, they never will, because it sells out. The only reason the SuperLiga’s future is uncertain is because no one shows up for it. As long as the fans turn out for the All Star games, MLS/Garber will never let go of the revenue. It doesn’t matter if the game is necessary or not. They don’t care about improving the league as much as they care about their bottom line.

  21. All Star Game, and the corporate franchise exhibition model the the MLS runs, should both go bye-bye.

    Superliga doesn’t sell out because MLS doesn’t bother to market it very hard, because they run an exhibition/franchise league. The franchise model doesn’t work as well with soccer, since MLS is, unlike every other major pro sport league in the US, not recognized as the best league of it’s kind in the world, and because our micromanaged first division clubs are at a distinct disadvantage in meaningful international competition, which their MLB, NBA and NHL brethren are not exposed to.

    But we do get a goofy American-style all star game outta the deal.

    Sweet.

  22. Gods own Country says:

    if our superliga is like Europa cup, why not invite other teams from North America, why just mexico and usa?

  23. Adam Edg says:

    GOC, I have that same thought. I actually have a long four part series that posted this week about improving US (& Cananda, PR, & Bermuda by extension) pro soccer. One component I address is the SuperLiga. Of course Pro/rel is discussed, particularly how it might be able to work with the franchise model we have adopted.

  24. Let me vouch for Adam’s series. He’s written his 4th part now and it is thought provoking and very much something everyone who visits our site should read:

    Here is the link:

    http://centraliowalax.blogspot.com/

  25. Adam Edg says:

    Thanks for the props, Kartik! I did not want to self-promote on here, but it was the only way…

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