by Brian Mechanick

The 2010 MLS All-Star Game roster has been named, and the league’s fans are licking their chops at the prospect of chopping down Manchester United. Complaints about the roster are valid, there is no way Jaime Moreno deserved to make the All-Star team more than Real Salt Lake’s Costa Rican sensation Álvaro Saborío. But ultimately, your view on the MLS All-Stars depends on your view on the game itself. Is the game about winning and earning respect for the league or displaying MLS’s brightest prospects?

MLS loves to advertise its record in All-Star games, posting a 5-1 record versus foreign club teams (and the only loss coming in penalties vs. Everton last year). The league’s performance is elucidating to its supporters and misleading to its haters. The glass half-full view is that by beating sides such as Chelsea, Celtic, and Fulham, there is talent in this league that contend with the world’s best (just look at the Galacticos they beat on Chelsea in 2006). The anti-MLS contingent contends that they take advantage of out of form teams treating the game as a glorified training session. Ultimately though, it is telling that a team of MLS stars having trained together for a matter of days can consistently beat well-tuned and supremely talented European sides.

The make-up of the roster brings up questions to MLS’s skill at developing domestic talent. Thirteen domestic players are on the 24-man team, with 12 Americans and perhaps most alarmingly, only one Canuck in Dwayne DeRosario. It has long been debated whether MLS has a responsibility in: A. putting a premium on developing domestic talent, and B. selling these same players to European sides to continue their development. If MLS says yes to A, and especially B, they would be wise to give a special opportunity to young domestic talents. One match can change a career: after one pre-season match Jay DeMerit went from 7th division English soccer to Watford, and it took one brilliant performance from Cristiano Ronaldo to urge Manchester United’s players to convince Sir Alex Ferguson to sign the young Sporting product. Perhaps the 2010 contest could launch the first American into the Red Devils’ first team since Tim Howard in 2003.

In the end, MLS needs to find a balance between this piece’s original question to help both the league and North American soccer. To gain the respect of the American sports fan the league cannot become like those of South America, marketing its young talents for the pursuit of profit. However, young domestic talent is key to the growth of not only MLS, but also the two soccer federations that the league represents. MLS needs to prove that is a producer of young talent, not the place where former stars are put out to pasture, as some foreign football fans believe.

The All-Star game provides a grand opportunity to continue to gain respect for the league internationally and domestically. Those who were captivated this summer by the World Cup will take notice if Manchester United falls at the sword of MLS’s best. On a Wednesday night in the deadest part of the sporting calendar, the league has to hope that a strong performance against the world’s most famous side will both validate the fandom of its most devoted fans and convert the casual soccer fan to new MLS supporters.
blog comments powered by Disqus
    KKTC Bahis Siteleri, Online Bahis



    Privacy Policy