Why I May Skip the All Star Game Tonight

Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez

Photo by Ed Schipul

How essential is watching an all star game to being a fan of a sport?

That’s the question I am asking myself with the MLS All Star Game later tonight.  ESPN2 will be broadcasting MLS All Stars v. Manchester United (The Rematch) beginning at 8:30 PM ET and I suspect the ratings for the event will be decent (relatively speaking).  MLS has done a good job of making its biggest players available to the media and spreading them out to numerous outlets, including Good Morning America.  Hans Backe has also been honest and open to the trade press, trying to appease the fans by including all of their voted selections on his squad, and constructing a team that he thinks can win.  So I am not necessarily offended by the process (although some of the selections I have major qualms with).  I just wonder if I need to watch a glorified exhibition.

For the record, I tend not to watch all star games of sports I enjoy.  No matter what the schtick (players pick teams, domestic v. foreign, winner gets homefield), if the game doesn’t count for something meaningful then I tend to enjoy it less.  And that I think is the root cause of my lack of interest in tonight’s game.

Except for a major injury, no matter what happens on the pitch tonight it won’t matter. No trophies will be awarded, no points towards a final goal will be given, and there is nothing for MLS to gain from this match.  If anything, there’s more to lose: witness the press surrounding last year’s game.  I may be in the minority, but when there is so little at stake in a game I have little impetus to watch it on television.

In the past I have stated that I enjoy international friendlies; does this make me a hypocrite?  Not at all, because I think the key difference is that I am watching this game on television. I can watch Manchester United on ESPN2 plenty of times in the coming months, in games that matter.  If I were at Red Bull Arena and feeling the atmosphere of the game, I would be more excited and interested.  But I am relegated to my couch, so I lose the atmosphere of the game and what appeals to me most about friendlies: seeing a team I can’t normally see play in-person.

Further complicating things is the counter-programming.  Tonight at 8 PM on Fox Soccer is the CONCACAF Champions League match with Toronto traveling to Real Estelí.  And while Toronto will likely lose (sorry Reds fans), this match has the things I want to see in a soccer game: a venue I may not normally see, a team in Real Estelí I can’t normally watch, and the drama of the outcome of this match meaning something important.  While the picture for the All Star Game will be better (stupid Comcast and their FSC stubbornness), I am definitely more interested in the CCL game tonight.

In the end, I will probably watch the All Star game or flip back and forth between the two soccer games.  But I won’t feel passionately about it and if there’s some compelling reason why I shouldn’t watch it, I may skip it altogether.  Does that make me a bad MLS fan?  I hope not.

What do you think?  Are you looking forward to the game tonight?

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48 Responses to Why I May Skip the All Star Game Tonight

  1. Brett says:

    This is only a chance for casuals to see the “best” players in our league get battered 4-nil to a Top 5 club in the world.

    In what way is this a good thing for the league?

    Go back to East v. West, or at least a winnable international friendly.

  2. Roger says:

    Obviously you’re right. The MLS All-Star game isn’t a serious game to see how the MLS’ best players compare to Europe’s best (or how medicore it is compared to them as Eurosnobs put it). It’s just a game for entertaiment for both MLS fans and Man United fans….no matter the result. Just because it isn’t an important game, it doesn’t mean it has no significance. The “All-Star” game is apart of the country’s sporting culture in almost every league. If the MLS wants to target American fans, the should promote themselves to American sports fans as opposed to Euro-centric sports fan. The Toronto CCL games is an important game…is you’re a Toronto fan. That being said, I can’t wait for the All-Star game tonight.

    • Headphone Jack says:

      yes, they are VERY mediocre.

      • Roger says:

        A pseudo-team with two days of training and little chemistry is ‘mediocre’ to an ultra-domain, rich team with year-round chemistry and tactics? I simply did not come to that premonition, but you just riveted me. Certainly this game had a lot to prove for “Man United”.

        • Jay says:

          The match-up is not quite what you have made it sound – bear in mind that this is Man United in pre-season, they are not a team of players who have been playing together all year, some of them will be going on loan – one (Van De Saar) has actually retired! Many of them have only played a handful of games (goal scorers Cleverly and Macheda for example). You could even argue that some of these players are just there on a ‘Jolly’ – In contrast, the MLS players are in the thick of their season and should be completely ‘up to speed’.
          The fact that Man United appear to be in such sizzling form is testament to the depth of their squad, and their eagerness to get stuck into their pre-season with gusto.
          That said, the first goal was a ‘schoolboy’ error between defenders, coupled with lighting-fast reactions and wonderful eye for goal from Macheda. Whilst any sports fan understands the gulf between Premier League and MLS, don’t forget that Man City only managed a 1-1 draw (before penalties) with The Galaxy.
          I agree with Roger – it may not be an ‘important’ or ‘significant’ game, but there is a chance for MLS players to show their abilities against better players, and a chance for the EPL players to ‘ease’ themselves into a new season – If it wasn’t broadcast at 1:30 am in my region – I would most certainly have wanted to watch!

  3. Alan says:

    I agree. I will probably be flipping back and forth. It is just a game of thrown together all-stars that don’t play together vs one of the best (and most expensive) teams in the world. It is lose-lose. If MLS wins, well, they should have. League all-stars against one club in pre-season, and it took the best players from all the teams to beat them. If they lose, then MLS sucks anyway.

    Sane people will realize that it is more complicated than that. A league that spends about the same as a whole as the club they are playing. Man U have the advantage because they play together and have been for years. The All-Stars do not play together unless they are on the same team. The best players in the world are attracted to Europe because that is where the best leagues are.

    I am not a huge Toronto fan, or else I would skip the All-Star game altogether. I will probably flip back and forth.

  4. Roger says:

    The MLS All-Stars do have a chance of winning if they understand Man United’s style and counter them. They like to play the ball on the air and on the wings, so the All-Stars hope is to mark the wingers and keep a tight defense. United probably won’t take the game seriously so I doubt they’ll look to play up a different style.

  5. Gunner says:

    I don’t think the game not counting for anything is the issue:
    The NHL All-star game is “meaningless”. This year (2011) had the largest ratings in HISTORY.
    The NBA All-star game is “meaningless”, and this year (2011) it had the best ratings since Michale Jordan’s return.
    The NFL All-star game is “meaningless”. It is played in Hawaii, AFTER the season is over, and more a vacation for the players than anything else. This year(2011) has the largest ratings in 11 years.

    The only “meaningful” All-star game is MLB’s mid-summer classic…which by the way had the LOWEST ratings in…well HISTORY. In fact, there has been a 25 percent DECREASE in ratings since 2009.

    So to address your point, people(Americans) don’t watch an All-star game because there is a reward for the winner or a point to playing. They watch it for the pure love of the sport.
    If you are a soccer fan (Especially an MLS fan) you will be inclined to watch it. Not because of gimmicks or gestures, but purely an enjoyment of watching soccer on tv.

  6. Charles says:

    MLS All Stars versus the EPL All Stars.
    Sounds good right ?

    Not for me. The gulf between the two All Star teams would be big enough if the EPL ( or is it BPL ? ) team didn’t all play together all year round.
    But they do.

    I love the baseball All-Star game, never miss it, but never watch the ProBowl…ever.
    This ranks somewhere in the middle for me.
    IF they went back to East-West, I would never miss it because I am a US soccer fan,
    but having the front running, casual soccer fan’s team in there just to make more money really makes it annoying.

    Ps. as I was typing I am thinking the Sounders played at home in CCL as the same time as the last All-Star Game ?

    • Robert says:


      Now I know you are a homer. You would watch the All-Star if it went back to East v. West format? So you’re only problem with the All Star game is that they play an Euro Team.

      Your issue should be that Sounders lost 1-0 to San Francisco last night and has not gotten any press coverage from this site or MLS.

      • Charles says:

        Robert, It is well documented that this site is a joke on that front. See the last week for a perfect example. 75 comments on clothing designs…pretty sure someone is going to write about the curtains in the luxury boxes next.

        But that is mainly to attract trolls like you. Although you do watch CCL, mainly it is to rip on MLS.

        It is not so much they are playing the EPL All-star team, (Dave C, they have won the B/EPL enough the difference in the two teams would be minimal. Especially compared to a MLS All Star team chosen by Backe, with two Houston defenders and no Donovan.)

        It is one the annoying factor
        two not being an all-star game. Enough already with making money off the front-running, casual fans ( which are not fans of MLS ).

        Give us MLS soccer. Weed out the casual fans, and leave the real fans to enjoy soccer.

        • Matthew says:

          Interesting, I didn’t know it was a story about a fashion show. I guess you missed the main point of the piece. Better luck next time.

        • Matthew says:

          You really think you are going weed out causal fans, good luck.Every sport has casual fans. It has always been that way and will continue to be that way. If they spend money on tickets or whatever take it.

        • Matthew says:

          I almost forgot if you are unhappy with the articles that are being submitted by the writers, throw your hat in the ring. Be nice to hear new ideas. So get that pen rolling.

          • Dave C says:

            Matthew, I usually don’t like the attitude “if you think you can do better, write an article yourself“. But in Charles’ case, you’re right. He’s always complaining about the MLS coverage on this site, while at the same time promoting himself as the truest soccer fan, boasting how he’s been dedicated to US soccer since the rest of us were a twinkle in our dad’s eye. He should put his money where his mouth is.

    • Dave C says:

      I know you love the MLS, and you probably don’t know enough about soccer outside of the US to know better, but if you think Man Utd are equivalent to an “All-star” team in the EPL (rather than simply the best team in the EPL), then you’re way off the mark.

      I think an “all star” team of the EPL would feature plenty of non-Man Utd faces.

  7. Dave C says:

    Personally I have nothing against the idea of an all-star game. It’s tradition in US sports, a bit of a novelty, a chance to see the leagues best players playing all in the same game. It’s actually something in some ways I wish could have been adopted in England too (and I’m English before any ex-pat Brits jump on me for saying that).

    However, I think it has two problems:

    (1) I think it should be an end-of-season thing, in recognition for performances over the course of the season (I think baseball all-star games are stupid too, for the same reason).

    (2) If should NEVER clash with any actual competetive games (such as the CCL).

    (3) However, if it’s not to be held until the end of the MLS season, no big-name European opponents will be available, and I don’t think MLS has enough public interest to make an in-house all-star game (eg East vs West) a viable spectacle.

    I wonder if they could do something like an MLS all-star team vs a team of Yanks playing abroad (this may or may not be similar to the US national team). Perhaps play it during an international friendly break so none of the Yanks abroad would miss USMNT games.

    I figure that way, it would be nice chance for Yanks playing abroad to get a nice “home-coming” game on US soil (without the issues of hostile opposition fans that plague most US “home” games).

    • Alan says:

      What about the MLS vs US International? I think that fans would tune in to see Dempsey, Howard, Altidore, Bradley, etc. play the best that MLS has to offer (the current All-star team).

      • Dave C says:

        Yeah in practice, what I suggested would probably be essentially identical to MLS all-stars vs USMNT. I just made the distinction of it being “Yanks abroad”, because some USMNT are based in MLS, and obviously couldn’t play for both teams.

    • Alan says:

      I think it would have to be during the summer, but I like the idea no matter when it takes place. I couldn’t agree more Dave C.

    • Alan says:

      Plus it would be fun to see guys like Donovan, Agudelo, Davies, etc play against the US National Team.

      • Dave C says:

        This is why I called it the “Yanks abroad” team rather than the USMNT – because if Donovan, Agudelo etc are playing for the MLS All-stars, then what is left on the USMNT isn’t really the full USMNT any more.

        They’ve used similar ideas for all-star games before (MLS all stars vs USMNT, and American MLS all-stars vs Imported MLS all-stars).

        What I do know is that the All-star game should never involve teams like Fulham, Everton, West Ham, etc. Either make it a glamorous over-seas team, or make it a purely domestic affair.

  8. Boyer says:

    This is possibly the most pointless thing I’ve ever read…

    • Charles says:

      ummm, they debated clothing fashions one post ago. Maybe you didn’t read it either, but feel free, I am sure it will make this seem like a dream come true post.

  9. BamaMan says:

    My simple suggestion?

    MLS Best XI v. Mexican Primera Division Best XI. You keep the “All-Star” format; you don’t devalue your league by showing that your best eleven aren’t up to par for a single, organized European club; and you garner a ton of views from Mexican-American fans who might not otherwise watch MLS teams. You tap into the US/Mexico rivalry, which is the most compelling thing going in CONCACAF. Win/win/win/win.

    Maybe the we could also cancel the ridiculous annual friendlies with Mexico, too.

    • dan says:

      That is actually a pretty damn good idea but it wouldn’t bring the casual fans or the euro snobs in.

      Honestly you guys are acting like idiots though, so MLS gets beaten one year, we have won almost every All Star game before and the talent this year is 100 times better than last.
      I’m expecting a very close game and MLS will pull through with the win.

      …i mean seriously, it’s not like we are playing Sounders players 😉 so don’t expect a 7-0 beating

      • Alan says:

        Another good idea. The All-Star game in its current format devalues the league to the casual fan that doesn’t know that Man U spend like crazy to have a club like they have. Plus, I would love to see the numbers as to how many fans become fans of the league due to the All Star game. My guess is not many. Either MLS vs Yanks Abroad or MLS vs Mexico is a much better idea. Hell, it might even help CCL viewership in the later rounds. The best team in MLS vs the best team in Mexico. I like it.

      • Robert Hay says:

        Yeah I’ll agree with Dan and BamaMan, I think an MLS/MPD all star game would be awesome and much more interesting than what we are getting now. Although it still wouldn’t count, it would interest people like myself who really like to root against the Mexico national team and exploits an already existing rivalry. I feel as though Sir Alex is too nice to MLS 😉

        • Dave C says:

          MLS All Stars vs Mexican League All-stars: Awesome idea. I think I like it even better than my own. 🙂

          • BamaMan says:

            Love the response. Maybe we could get Garber and company to buy into it. Any ideas on how to get a campaign going?

          • Alan says:

            A MUCH better idea than playing in the freezing cold and snow 😉

            Good suggestion. I doubt Garber would buy into it, but we can only hope…

      • WSW says:

        So what do you think now? 4-0

    • Charles says:

      Cancel the friendlies with Mexico ? Why ? Mexico gives the US something to strive for and compete with all at once.

      Other than that side comment….
      I love the Mexican Prim All-Stars versus MLS All-Stars !!!

      US Players might make the Mexican All Star team and Blanco types would be playing for US All Stars. Awesome.

      Huge audiance for MLS from the Mexican Americans = $$$$$
      With no huge fee from the EPL AllStar team.

      And best of all the annoying casual fan that thinks they are a real fan…bye bye.

      • BamaMan says:

        I don’t like the friendlies with Mexico because we already play them in competition 3-4 times every World Cup cycle (Gold Cups and WCQ). I prefer games against rivals to be competitive and not friendly. That’s my only beef. We should be striving to beat them when it counts.

        But the two ideas are totally separate. MLS v. MPD is imminently doable and would probably save a whole lot of cash over the appearance fees we have to shell out for Man U, etc. And it would expose the MPD to non-Mexican-American soccer fans who haven’t given it much attention thus far. Win/win for everybody.

      • Dave C says:

        Wow, in the history of MLS Talk, has any idea ever been greeted with such universal approval as this one???

        Even the soccerreform guy and pro/rel guy haven’t showed up to pooh-pooh the idea, so it must be a good one!

        • BamaMan says:

          Do I get a prize? It’s one I’ve been sitting on for a while and I’ve only started posting on here lately. I’m rather surprised no one has suggested it before now.

      • Matthew says:

        Aren’t there already huge audiances with the current format? How do you know there would be no fees attached? Also, you really think Mexicans would want American players playing on their All Star team? Considering the type of reception that US teams get in Mexico I am not sure about that one. Casual fans will still be around as they have always.

        • Dave C says:

          You have a good point that there would still probably be fees attached, but I can’t imagine it being anything like whatever Man Utd charge.

          Also, you really think Mexicans would want American players playing on their All Star team?

          Do you think there would be any American’s playing on the Mexican League All Stars team? I don’t follow the Mexican league at all, so I don’t know who would constitute their All-Star team, but the only two Americans I could imagine might make the roster would be Hercules Gomez and Jose F Torres.

          @Bamaman – your prize is that the cup should be named in your honor.

          • BamaMan says:

            I figure there would probably be more TV revenue to go around for all involved because it would be must-see TV in Mexico as well as in the US.

            As for friendlies, I still think we’d be better served by playing a strong CONMEBOL or UEFA squad in place of Mexico in friendlies. That’s not a knock on Mexico or CONCACAF; they’re an incredible team right now and CONCACAF is much, much stronger than it once was. But we grow as a squad by facing off against squads that have different styles of play but are still quality. And it preserves the 3-4 Mexico games per WC cycle as truly major events.

        • Charles says:

          Casual fans will always be around, but yeah, but it will weed out the annoying ones. The ones that think they are NOT casual fans.
          The dreaded Man U jersey wearing tool.

          I am a huge proponent of the casual fan showing up to a Kansas City game to watch Columbus play. Sounders started out with an enourmous amount of casual fans that have become real fans.

          Bamaman, we will you use your real name on the trophy.
          I actually agree with you on the friendlies. But the US has to play friendlies, or they will drop even further than 30th in the joke of FIFA ratings. Mexico is a good opponent.

  10. casualfan says:

    I’ll watch it, but I don’t have to like it. It’s been a cringe-inducing affair watching MLS teams flail helplessly at the likes of Man U and Real Madrid. Honestly, I don’t know why top flight teams bother playing inferior squads. They only stand to lose players in wreckless challenges, which unfortunately for us US soccer fans, is the MLS player’s bread and butter. Can’t keep up with them? Foul. Too smart for you? Foul. Don’t like the way that guy is looking at me? Drop kick!

    Go back and watch the Galaxy vs. Real Madrid game and count how many times Landon Donovan – Captain America, Mr. Fantastic – goes to ground and shamelessly, disgracefully tackles RM players in what is merely a publicity stunt. A game worth absolutely nothing. And he, our “best” player, is playing like a twat.

    It’s disgraceful, and I’m ashamed to call them American soccer players.

  11. Charles says:

    Contact your team. The MLS teams are not far removed from the supporters groups and thus their fans.

    I am sure I could get that in front of Adrian Hanauer, who must have a little pull in MLS. The idea sells itself. Not like we have to pitch anything. Better than what they are doing now and probably makes them more money when they sell out the RoseBowl and Collisium every year.

    • Matthew says:

      With all due respect you think you are going to walk into this guy’s office and sell this idea without any real effort. Do you have personal and business relationship with him? I am sure you know that all the league teams have marketing, operations and promotion departments and not to mention what SUM does. Do you have any idea what goes into selling a business plan of this size to a company as large as MLS/SUM? Assuming you even get in the front door, which I think will take some doing. I am not trashing idea but I think you are living in a fantasy land in how you can sell it.

  12. I am sure I could get that in front of Adrian Hanauer, who must have a little pull in MLS. The idea sells itself. Not like we have to pitch anything. Better than what they are doing now and probably makes them more money when they sell out the RoseBowl and Collisium every year.

  13. Better than what they are doing now and probably makes them more money when they sell out the RoseBowl and Collisium every year.

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