- Jason Davis

I suppose this post is unavoidable. When 70,000 people show up and a significant number can see the game on a widely available national TV outlet, a drubbing like the MLS All-Stars took last night at the hands of Manchester United is bound to be a talking point. It certainly was during the game.

Twitter blew up with expressions of embarrassment on the part of MLS fans and suggestions that MLS should be ashamed of the beating. The idea that the game was some kind of referendum on the quality of the league floated in the periphery. I railed internally against all of it.

The game was an exhibition. A collection of players from various teams across a league in the midst of its grueling season who had an hour or two of training together were beaten by one of the world's best clubs looking to make amends after losing to a nondescript MLS team on the weekend. In hindsight, I'm kicking myself for thinking the game would be a draw.

MLS is a victim of its own success in this situation. Previous All-Star wins versus foreign clubs, plus last year's narrow defeat to Everton, have conditioned people to believe this format of throwing together the league "stars" produces something approaching a reasonable team. It doesn't. Not even close.

The only way for an All-Star squad will beat a well-drilled team like Manchester United is to get a few moments of individual brilliance and for the opposition to fail to capitalize on their chances. MLS got little of the former, and United didn't cooperate on the latter; what we saw last night has always been the more likely outcome in All-Star games. The league simply managed to beat the odds in the past. A reversal of fortune does not necessarily imply the league has taken a step back or that the quality of player here is a below any perceived standard.

And let's be clear: a win last night wouldn't have proved anything either. Just as Kansas City's win over United on Sunday proved nothing other than that an actual team has a better chance of winning exactly because they are a team. The mitigating factors surrounding the All Star Game make the result meaningless. For those of us already fans, that is.

If the All-Star Game is a chance for the league to showcase itself to soccer fans who aren't not already on board, then last night's showing is disappointing. I suppose we could lament the lost chance to grab new fans, but the league surely knows the risk it takes putting its players in that position; nevertheless, the juice is worth the squeeze because of the 70,000 people in the building and the prime time TV slot on ESPN2.

Eventually, we're going to have to get over this need to view every friendly, All-Star or not, as an indication of where the league stands.

Just like the All-Star Games against foreign opponents before it, last night's result proves nothing. Manchester United is a better team than a bunch of thrown together players. Is that a surprise?

I was disappointed in the MLS showing last night, being an MLS fan. But I sure as hell wasn't ashamed or embarrassed.

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