Tuesday’s Column: Does the All-Star game and international friendlies help grow the game in the U.S.?

i-553dd0f4cc913ad4c4a659a81abc81da-972255000c.jpgFun and games at the All-Star Game: David Beckham and Thierry Henry share a laugh Monday while practicing for Wednesday’s game (AP Photo).

Regular readers know I’m no fan of the MLS All-Star Game, an American sporting tradition that has no place in a global game. And after some of the antics and overall performances we’ve seen recently at games between MLS clubs and foreign opposition, combining the All-Star game with an exhibition against Manchester United is just combining two bad ideas.

Even worse (and something I neglected to mention in the column), international friendlies involving MLS clubs are being scheduled at the same time as regular season games, meaning soccer is essentially competing with itself for attention

How does that help MLS?

What do you think?

Do these games help grow soccer in this country or are they just about making money for those who are part of the soccer establishment here?

Read the column here and post your comments below.

Interestingly, I already received an e-mail this morning from someone who said they disagree with me, but several paragraphs of the e-mail seem to support the points I was trying to make in the column:

Not only is the MLS inferior, and boring with all the draws and scoreless draws, it also shoots itself by insisting to play while the best players are away on international duty too.

Sadly the display Saturday (actually, Sunday) showed how little the MLS cares as the kids that came for LA in the second half had energy and played well versus what was still a world class side from City. Too bad the MLS regulars don’t put out an effort like that on a 45 or 90 minute basis.

Personally, I only attend the international friendlies so I can see the best players in the world even if they are just in pre season shape.

Last year, I let me guard down and allowed a friend to persuade me into going to the Galaxy – Red Bull game since Henry would also be there. Instead it proved my point. It was by far the worst football game I have ever attended. Henry did not play, Beckham spent most of the night flailing his arms in the are clearly not interested in actually playing and my friend ultimately apologized to me as the horrid level of play had proven me right.

Doesn’t sound like someone who will be converted to MLS by watching these types of exhibition games does it? And isn’t that the point in scheduling them?


The Galaxy’s Juninho was added Monday to the inactive roster of six players for the MLS All-Star game.

The honor is presumably based largely on financial considerations.

The MLS Players Union labor agreement with the league calls for 32 players to be named to the All-Star team. Players usually receive a performance bonus for being named an All-Star.

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  • Nope. The circle jerk matches are just preaching to the choir …

  • studs down

    I commented on this subject earlier after the Galaxy/Man. City game but let me expand.

    I totally disagree with your view on the All-Star game’s relevancy. This is an AMERICAN league, with Canada being the 51 state, and it embraces all aspects of game understood and loved by the AMERICAN sport fans. Who cares if soccer is a global game, it does not have to kowtow to the way things are done in other countries. The All-Star game is about celebration and recognition of players performances in the first half of the season. It’s a party break to have some fun. Does it have any positive impact on the game here? YES. It showcases the league and the players when little is down by the media.

    The international friendlies are another matter. As I pointed out in the other thread, it’s become a necessary evil for the MLS teams. Ideally you wouldn’t want those games during your season and in MLS cities. But it’s better to have them involving the MLS teams rather than filling the coffers of rich Mexican teams. MLS teams need to generate revenue to survive and prosper and these meaningless games help. Do they help grow the game? Overall, I would say yes becuase it puts soccer in focus. This game is still not in the flow of regular sports in this country and every little bit helps. Non-MLS fans are not converted and never will. I have come to that conclusion after years of observation. There is the unfortunate reality of parallel soccer markets in this country. The ex-pats, euro and Latino snubs for the most part are bandwagonners. They come out of hiding in front of their TV sets only when a name player pops up. They do not see the importance of supporting their local teams to help the game grow here. They want the local teams to just show up and play pretty soccer on a yearly budget of $3 million for 30 players when the stadiums are half empty for the most part. MLS is doing a wonderful job given the obstacles that still face the game here. They are trying to run a successful business while waiting for the fans to come on board, and they are doing a damb good job of it.

  • kingsnake

    Just because it is American does not mean there should be a all star game. I am American. Born here. Hate all all star games. They are all farces. So, by your logic, me being American and this being an American league there should not be an all-star game. Besides, my parents taught me, as I am sure yours taught you, that just because the “other kids” do something does not mean you should also. And the All Farce Game is a example #1.

  • studs down

    You’re conclusion would be correct if you were the only American sports fan left in this country. My premise, assuming a majority support, stated that the All-Star game is an American sports concept and should not be discarded because nobody else does it as Nick pronounced and apparently you wish. It’s fun for the players and the fans. It’s a celebration and a harmless pat on the back for the players. What’s wrong with a little levity in the middle of a long and grueling season? As a game, it is a well-intended farce. Good for a few laughs and stress reliever for everyone. I still like Donovan doing a Chastain after scoring a goal many years back.

    Pitting an All-Star team vs a visiting team is actually a very common “global” practice — are you paying attention Nick. But I’m on the fence with the league trying to make these a bit more competitive by deciding a winner and handing out a trophy. That is definitely silly.

  • Limey

    I don’t know what all the fuss is about I went on Sunday and the game was more exciting and interesting than most of the Galaxy games this year.

  • studs down

    No fuss Limey, question was asked if the All-Star games and int’l friendlies help the game here. Care to add your 2 Cents worth?

  • Dan

    I do think that the exhibition games with world class teams has mainly to do with $$

    MLS regular games don’t pay all the bills, so a few games where you can generate good cash flow is a must for all MLS teams. ALSO, why does MU, Real Madrid and other great teams come to the US?? for exactly the same reason!! they have to pay the players salaries!

  • Limey

    You know studs I agree that All Start games are a part of American sports, its kind of a fun celebration, like snack after an AYSO game. I do think the exabition games get people out to games that don’t normally go, presumably some people continue to go so that’s good. MLS teams seem to realise now that the game are not that important and they are not risking injuries. The whole Alecko Vs. AC Milan (I think) really bothered me, but they seem to have it figured out now. It was fun to see the kids play a part in the second half Sunday.

    BTW, it sucks being a West Brom fan but can you imagine supporting Man City? It would be like being a New York Mets fan. I feel bad for those guys.

  • studs down

    Nick seems to be losing his position here.

    Go Mets