I Guess MLS Will Always Be Just A Little Different
With the MLS announcement today that voting is now open for the MLS All Star Game later this summer I realized that in a lot of ways MLS is, and will likely remain, very different than just about every other professional top flight professional footy league on earth.
And better or worse, a lot of the differences are going to remain differences for a long time to come.
Now don’t get me wrong. As a spectacle the All Star Game is fun. I had a blast at the All Star Game at BMO Field in 2008. it was great to watch Beckham, Blanco, DeRo and Jimmy Brennan among others beat West Ham. I even got to spend some time drinking a couple of wobbly pops with some of the (in)famous West Ham Supporters Group the Inter-City Firm or ICF.
I got to thinking about that match today as MLS has announced that voting for the 2010 edition of the game against Manchester United in Houston is now open for business. And once again fans see how very much different MLS is in relation to virtually every other footy league on the planet.
I must confess do not want one single solitary Toronto FC player anywhere near Houston for a game that only serves to take focus from the competitive league matches that have to be played before and after the All Star Game. I read on the message boards today that some TFC fans have even started voting “strategically”, putting in votes for hated Columbus Crew players and Kansas City players (whose club TFC plays three days after the All Star game). Many feel that voting for Toronto FC players is not the right thing to do. And I can’t say I blame them.
The “connected” MLS fan, whether they be U Sector in Toronto, HHH in Columbus, Section 8 in Chicago, Barra Brava in DC or Riot Squad in LA, are all already converts to the clubs, the league and the sport. They don’t need mid season spectacles to get them to buy in. They have already done so. The “casual” North American sports fan does not understand that shutting down the league to play an all star game is abhorrent to many footy purists. Nor do they understand that promotion/relegation is the norm and not the exception. They do not understand why moving a league match to accommodate Real Madrid for example is something fans will get angry about. And they certainly don’t understand why you would ever think of not having playoffs to decide the winner of the league.
Soccer is not, nor will it ever be, at the at the top of the heap in North American professional sports. There is a lot of room to grow and the changes over the past few years are definitely steps in the right direction. But the collective gnashing of teeth from the “connected” fans about these differences needs to be tempered with a few reality checks. North American sports leagues have salary caps, playoffs and all star games. Perhaps in years ahead as soccer at the highest levels grows the way we all hope it will then there may be more of an alignment between the leagues we follow overseas and MLS. And All Star Games are part and parcel of what this league will be about for a lot of years to come.
Until then TFC fans lets do all we can to keep every TFC player we can away from Houston unless of course they are playing for TFC against Houston.
Here is a list of my most hated starting XI that I voted for today. I encourage you to join me in voting for these sad sad individuals. Together we can keep every TFC Player we can away from this match!
- Jeff Cunningham – FC Dallas (TFC fans know why)
- Steven Lenhart – Columbus Crew (Super douche in the making)
- Freddie Ljungberg – Seattle Sounders (You are dead to me Freddy… DEAD TO ME!)
- Guillermo Barros Schelotto- Columbus Crew (A Super Douche who is training Lenhart in his image)
- Kyle Beckerman – Real Salt Lake(The hair… can’t get past the hair)
- Robbie Rogers- Columbus Crew (When in doubt always go for a Columbus player)
- Eddie Gaven – Columbus Crew (See Robbie Rogers)
- Pablo Escobar – Kansas City Wizards(He might scare Man U on name alone)
- Frankie Hejduk – Columbus Crew (A double threat of Columbus and the greasiest hair in the league)
- Danny Califf – Phiadelphia Union (Maybe he can fulfill a dream of mine and smack Gary Neville square in the chops)
- Zach Thornton- Chivas USA (Since “Penis Head” Matt Reis is injured you can’t go wrong with the square footage that is Zach Thornton)
Vote today, vote tomorrow, VOTE OFTEN!