Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dimming All-Stars

I wasn't always anti-All-Star Game.

I remember the first one, and how exciting it was. I seem to remember the first half being much better than the second half, but it was a large crowd at Giants Stadium and I thought it was awesome seeing all the league's stars come together for a game. And you had big stars then like Marco Etcheverry, Carlos Valderrama and Jorge Campos as well as guys like Eddie Pope and seeing all of them play on a team was cool.

Why don't I think like that anymore?

I'm not looking forward to the All-Star Game tonight. I haven't looked forward to an All-Star Game since at least five years. Not sure why.

It seems like tonight would be good and the game will probably be a decent one to watch. Becks vs. ManU... that's a story onto itself, right? And throw in Chicharito and Wayne Rooney and Thierry Henry going up against those guys and, well, that's a lot of starpower there.

It doesn't do it for me, though.

I think it's because I see it as a gimmick. It always was. All-star games in general are, and this league vs. club set-up is a gimmick within a gimmick. An interesting one but still a gimmick. It's supposed to inspire an Us vs. Them mentality, but to me that sets up a no-win situation. If MLS struggles, well what else would you expect from them? If MLS does well, of course it's because the opposing team is in preseason and obviously just going through the motions.

But I also think that there is too much emphasis on this game, with the amount of energy the league goes to, to promote it and to get the word out that this is happening, just seems like misguided attention.

Seattle lost 1-0 at San Francisco of Panama in a CONCACAF Champions League match on Tuesday. That's pretty startling, but at the same time it's not. Seattle is one of the league's best teams this season and to not be able to score against a team from Panama... surely MLS is better than Panama, right? Maybe, but this is typical of MLS teams, to struggle terribly in the CCL.

Yet this situation doesn't change as the league does little to support the teams at this stage of the season. Piling on friendlies to Seattle's slate (Man U a week ago) probably didn't make things any easier for them. Same with the Galaxy, who had to endure two high-profile friendlies in an already crowded time for them just as the team prepares itself for this league and cup challenge.

I suppose that's what does it for me, the amount of attention the league gives, that they make it seem as if this truly is an important game when it's not, when there are other important things that need attention but don't get it (Open Cup for starters). There are still all sorts of areas where the league can make changes for the better, and in some cases some changes that could be made overnight that would instantly upgrade the league (the wretched playoff format for one).

Part of me thinks that I'm being too hard on the league and I should just watch the game as a fan and enjoy watching MLS players in a different set-up. And I may do that when the game starts (if I watch it of course). But still, this is a game that would do well to go away.

For me anyway. I don't know that I'm in the majority. In fact, I don't think I am.

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