27 July 2011

MLS All-Stars vs. Man United

Before you continue reading, I should warn you that this is not an in depth critique of tactics used by either coaches, or individual player performances, or even what kind of season Man United will have based on the 4-0 score line. This is purely a critique on the critics of the MLS All Stars.

First off, why even have an All Star Game? Logic does not root itself here, but rather the fact that a professional sport cannot be held in America without featuring a mid-season All Star Game. ESPN2 even showed the MLL (Major League Lacrosse, and yes, I abbreviated only for the integrity of the organization) All Star Game, but good luck trying to find any regular season MLL games. The most un-American way to say that an All Star game for MLS is that you don't see European leagues having an All Star Game... And why would you? Players need time off from international friendlies, competitions and ~50 games in a season, with all of the UEFA games and domestic competitions. Coaches need to rotate rosters and even purchase players half way through the season just to make it through without the financial disaster of relegation, or even just not making it into a European competition. The MLS All Star game is doing nothing for the MLS except making it look even more silly to the international soccer/football community.

That being said, I am also tired of American soccer followers both not treating this seriously at all and taking this game too seriously. As confusing as that sounds, I am both frustrated with people lambasting a team of individuals, coached by someone who's never coached them, in a game that doesn't count for anything, trying not to get injured so they can help their club team make the playoffs.

I am also frustrated at those living in America who are not willing to take hold of the game. I understand the teams of the MLS are not the most beautiful, but watch FC Barcelona more than 10 times a year, and even the biggest soccer fans will start to see repetition and yawn at the most tactically gifted team of perhaps all time. I don't say this to slight Barca, but rather tell off those content to look only to Europe for football, and not support the growth of the American game. The MLS has great goals and talented coaches, players, and growing support. We don't have the financial backing of the England and Spanish and don't have the fanaticism of Italy or Germany, but I would say realistically, that the MLS CAN get there someday. We have the right direction, and with a few tweaks our league could even support 2 leagues (West vs. East, or maybe an MLB-like "American/National" League type of thing, similar to Brazilian Serie A or Argentine futbol).

We can be critical of the game here in the US, but we can't be irrational with expectations both in whether we are over- or under-performing.

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