Everyone was curious to know what the big announcement was coming from the front office of Major League Soccer this week. Some were expecting the announcement of the 2011 regular season schedule, or possibly the long awaited new playoff format. Well you would be wrong on both accounts.
The big announcement shared Tuesday was the return of the MLS All-Star Game to the New York City Tri-State area and this time instead of the Meadowlands it will be at second year Red Bull Arena. During the conference call with Los Angeles Galaxy player Landon Donovan and New York Red Bulls striker Thierry Henry, MLS Commissioner Don Garber took questions from the media on the special topic.
The main question that got me thinking was why won’t this game be played at the 70,000 seat New Meadowlands Stadium like it was last season down in Houston’s Reliant Stadium against Manchester United? For the first time in my opinion Don Garber wants to showcase 25,000 seat Red Bull Arena to the world. To show everyone that the game really matters in the United States and for once showing the brand new jewel of American stadiums instead of worrying about how much money can they fill their pockets.
Every year since changing the format from east versus west to the league versus a popular European club or that one year against Chivas of Guadalajara from Mexico, the league shows the world that MLS is a strong league and reap the rewards as well. It’s always exciting to see these clubs from Europe prepare for their upcoming seasons and coming to the States to appease their American fan base.
I remember the first two All-Star Games at Giants Stadium when MLS got started. When the club was known as the MetroStars, Tab Ramos scored the very first MLS All-Star goal along with keeper Tony Meola, midfielder Roberto Donadoni and striker Giovanni Savarese on the side. The East defeated the West three goals to two and since then it’s been a lot of fun to watch.
But for the last two seasons I have felt that the all-star game has outlived its usefulness. I understand that the other four professional sports have all-star games and it helps celebrate their sport for their mid-season. The NHL all-star game in Raleigh, North Carolina was changed up. Instead of an east versus west or North America versus the world, it was a fantasy hockey manager’s dream when one team led by Nicklas Lidstrom of the Detroit Red Wings drafted players against another team led by hometown player Eric Staal of the Carolina Hurricanes.
The NFL Pro Bowl has been considered a waste and they keep on trying to make it interesting by playing it before the Super Bowl. MLB’s mid-season classic has the league winner with four of the seven games in the World Series.
I still feel MLS needs to stop having the All-Star Game because it’s truly a waste of a day where we should put in a US Open Cup Round proper date, or if it’s a CONCACAF Champions League match. Those should be the most important things to see.