HOUSTON - APRIL 17: A banner showing the 2010 MLS All-Star game to be held in Houston is brought onto the field at Robertson Stadium on April 17, 2010 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

I'm not against All Star Games as a general rule. Choosing the best players a league has to offer, bringing them together, and holding an exhibition game is an American institution stretching back to the birth of the baseball version in the 1930s. All of our major professional sports have such a game, and it makes sense that Major League Soccer would have one of their own.

I've even defended the MLS version as a necessary showpiece event; this league needs exposure, and with the current format of MLSers versus a notable foreign club, exposure is gained. This year's game against Manchester United is certainly an attention grabber.

But the league needs to make its mind on a few issues. They've given lip service to the importance of winning the CONCACAF Champions League, yet the All Star Game is scheduled in conflict with the CCL efforts of LA, Seattle, and Toronto. Per the All Star First XI release:

Due to international competition – MLS teams in the CONCACAF Champions League the week of the 2010 AT&T MLS All-Star Game – the MLS All-Star Game Day Roster will be 23 players as opposed to the 18 players used in the past. LA Galaxy and Toronto FC players who are All-Stars will arrive in Houston on the day of the All-Star game and will be available to play against Manchester United. No Seattle players will be available for the game day roster, but can be named All-Stars.

Seattle players are unavailable because they play Salvadoran club Isidro Metapan at Qwest Field the same night as the All Star Game. The two games will even overlap, since MLS v. Man United start time is 8:30 PM Eastern and the CCL match goes off at 10 PM Eastern.

Meanwhile, Galaxy and TFC players will fly into Houston the day of the All Star Game after participating in their own Champions League matches the night before. Ahem.

In the interest of TV, the aforementioned exposure, and putting the game in a prime time slot so people might stumble upon it on a Wednesday night, perhaps there was no other option for the league. By scheduling it in direct conflict with "important" an international competition for one of their clubs and one day later for others, however, they only appear to be minimizing the CCL. Actions speak much louder than words.

There's no doubting that a friendly against Manchester United that showcases the league's best talent will catch the eye Euro-focused American soccer fans. The league clearly sees this game as important to growing their fan base, otherwise it wouldn't exist in this form. In the short term, it might even be legitimate to argue that the All Star Game is more important than the Champions League; but longer term, both for the reputation of MLS among soccer fans here and the standing of the league in the region (where talent can found), the Champions League means much more.

If there's not a workable slot to put the game, and I'd argue that Wednesday, July 28th is not truly workable considering what else is taking place that day and the day before, than the All Star Game shouldn't happen. Period.

I give MLS a lot more slack than many observers, but even I find it difficult to stomach holding a glorified exhibition in the midst of a competition they claim they'd like their clubs to win.

Should any Galaxy or TFC player, if they play significant minutes on Tuesday night in their Champions League qualifier, really play in a meaningless game the next night? And yet with names like Donovan and DeRosario, it's hard to imagine they won't at least appear.

That doesn't sit well.
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