There are only 50 pulse-quickening days to go until the MLS All-Star Game, though I'm sure I’d don’t need to tell you that because you're already counting the days down yourself in fevered anticipation.
Or you could’ve just filed that little nugget of information to the back of your mind where it could be carefully disposed of until the official site and blogpack try to convince you that you care, you really, really care about this game. Vote! Vote now! Care!
I’m sure MLS do well financially from the engagement or else we wouldn’t be subjected to this carnival every year, even after factoring in costs to stage and to pay a team from Europe to travel over and attract sponsors. A big play will be made about selling the MLS brand abroad, and we’ll hear all kinds of talk about “markets”, “exposure” and “profile”; you know, the kinda stuff that really get a soccer fan’s juices flowing.
By the way, this is the same organisation that seeks to “protect” the Cascadia Cup trademark. Just saying.
But, from admittedly limited experience, I can tell you that in the UK, no-one cares beyond ” played a pre-season friendly today in America.” That situation is changing a bit as MLS slowly increases its profile abroad and I’m sure there will be those in MLS HQ who point to the All Star Game as a key part of that growth, but that’s equine manure.
MLS players making an impression in decent leagues abroad is increasing the profile as a place where you can actually buy talent, rather than send players who’s talents are waning.
The fans are doing it too by adding some literal noise and color to proceedings and getting the attention of international press.
The All-Star Game is a sideshow. MLS pats itself on the back for putting on their big boy soccer league pants while a bunch of superstars go about running off a summer spent on a beach in Dubai and people pay to attend this spectacle because this is just what the league does. A weird holdover from the days when the game here both helped and hampered in itself by modeling aspects on other US sports rather than other soccer leagues.
So, yeah, I’m not a fan of it, and the announcement of the opening of the ballot (VOTE! OR THE PUPPY GETS IT!) has left my twitter stream alternating from actively not caring to using the vote as a chance to weaken other sides because of course you’d schedule all this for the middle of the fucking week.
Given it’s squeezed into the schedule and could have a direct effect on the play-off race, I don’t see why we need to persist with a show-piece game in the first place. The big European teams will be here playing MLS sides anyway.
But if we do need some kind of event to drum up interest in the “package”, then why not thinking out of the box and, I’m not entirely unserious when I say this, why not hold a six-a-side tournament.
It’s a game that many fans will be familiar from playing in or attending, as well as non MLS fans. It’s quick, throws up lots of action in short bursts (that allow for commercial breaks), and will guarantee goals.
I remember from growing up that there was a similar competition held in Scotland called the Tennents Sixes. The top clubs would gather for a weekend and play a round-robin knockout tournament.
I loved it, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that a significant part of the reason I wanted to see Kilmarnock get promoted was that they would be eligible for the Sixes.
The tournament died due to increasing worries about injuries, as well as Tennents being an brand of lager and that kind of thing being frowned upon on TV. It’s never been revived, outside of a popular Masters tournament for old club legends, and I don’t think for a second MLS would actually entertain the idea, but I know which one I’d be watching every second of.
Still, I guess I better go vote for non-Timbers players because I don’t want our guys getting hurt in order to puff up Don Garber’s ego any further. Yay, All-Star Game.