I don't mind the MLS All-Star game. I know that may not sound like a ringing endorsement of the event and it's not. I write this not to defend the league, because to me, liking the game is a matter of preference, like peanut butter. If one travels around the world at all, one realizes that outside of the U.S., most people really don't care for peanut butter.
I realize the All-Star game is similarly unique to American sports, but not really. Almost every league puts together a list at the end of the season that compiles the best players in a First XI. Fans can only imagine how such a squad would actually perform, though. Even FIFA has a World Cup team when that tournament ends that puts together the best participants on paper. The All-Star Game goes one step beyond that recognition and actually puts their team on the field for one game.
I think that's kind of exciting, even if the result is ultimately meaningless.
(Though anything that gets Chelsea fans tripping over themselves to tell everyone exactly how meaningless their 2005 loss to the MLS All-Stars was, can't be all bad).
West Ham isn't a great opponent, though. Honestly, I blame the turf. No one has said that Liverpool backed out of the All-Star game because of the field, but it remains a plausible theory. It is that much of a negative factor.
But it wasn't as if the game was going to be canceled just because the opponent wasn't really of superior caliber. That's what will make everyone appreciate the future matches versus AC Milan, Boca Juniors, Lyon, Bayern Munich and Everton. Bringing in an outside opponent is also a great tip of the hat to the international aspect of the beautiful game.
I actually find the MLS All-Star Game format superior to that of the other U.S. sports. The East/West division in the NBA means some ultimate combinations never happen - Kobe isn't passing to Kevin Garnett, for example.
David Beckham with a cross to Juan Pablo Angel, though? Oh, yeah. Cuauhtemoc Blanco working a give and go with Landon Donovan? Money, honey. It's the best of the best in MLS and I think it's worth watching, even with griping about venue, schedule, and the travesty of Guillermo Barros Schelotto's exclusion.
Then again, my Brazilian friends think I'm crazy to like peanut butter.