The 2008 MLS All-Star Game will be remembered not for the victory against West Ham, but for a collection of talent better than any we’ve seen in an all-star game before it.
When Landon Donovan and Juan Pablo Angel are coming off the bench in a game, you know there is some serious firepower on the roster. when Dwayne DeRosario can enter the game late and still work his magic despite being less than 24 hours from having played 90 minutes in Washington D.C., you know the game is special.
I don’t put too much stock into the whole "Beating West Ham legitimizes MLS" thinking. A result in a friendly doesn’t do that. Strong teams, good games, more star players and full stadiums do that. What last night’s game did was give the league a chance to show off a bit, and the game certainly accomplished that.
Here are some other observations from MLS All-Star week:
Cuauhtemoc Blanco stole the show. Yes, he’s easy to hate when he’s punching opponents, flopping and berating referees and opponents, but when Blanco does what he does best he truly is a special player. I get the sense that he was out to prove something on Thursday. Let’s face it, David Beckham gets most of the attention from non-Latino media and I’m sure Blanco can’t help but think to himself, "Hey, I’m a pretty good player too." He showed that and showed why he has been a great acquisition for MLS.
Dwayne DeRosario sent the crowd home happy. Not just because he scored the game-winner but because his 31 minutes of action were chock full of exciting plays. He gave everything he had to put on a show in front of his hometown fans and they showed him love for it. I know Toronto FC has Amado Guevara right now but I’m willing to bet good money that DeRosario is playing for Toronto FC next year.
DeRosario is 30 years old and you get the sense that he would love nothing more than to come back home. It also probably doesn’t hurt that MLS all but urged Toronto FC to deal the Brian McBride allocation to Chicago so McBride could come home. MLS will look pretty hypocritical if it doesn’t show the same enthusiasm for a DeRosario move back home to Toronto. Especially considering DeRosario has done far more
for in MLS than McBride ever has. (One word can make all the difference. I meant no slight to McBride in the initial paragraph, should have written ‘in’ and not ‘for’. McBride is an MLS pioneer without question, but just as some feel he deserved special consideration with regards to his request to come home and play, I believe DeRosario has done enough in his career in MLS to merit the same treatment.)
Shalrie Joseph is too good for MLS. There, I said it. He didn’t do anything flashy like drop back-heels or blast a goal from distance, but he just gets the job done in central midfield. You almost got the sense early on that West Ham’s midfielders had given up trying to fight him for the ball because he’s just so tough to take off of it. He is on a new deal with MLS but told me he still holds on to dreams of playing in Europe. Thursday night showed us once again that Joseph could step into any league in the world and hold his own.
Jonathan Bornstein looked very sharp. He had a solid game and while I still don’t think he deserved the call-up he looked very dangerous getting forward and looks primed to get right back into the fight for the starting left back spot on the U.S. national team. it won’t be an easy fight. Heath Pearce enjoyed a strong run in the U.S. team’s most recent friendlies.
Juan Toja was adamant that no deal was done with Steaua Bucharest yet. He was pretty irate at having quotes attributed to him that he insisted were completely made up. He definitely wants to leave, and is desperate for the deal to be done, but he is rightfully concerned that premature talk about the deal could jeopardize it.
What were your favorite moments of the MLS All-Star game, eh? What stood out for you? Share your thoughts on the 2008 MLS All-Star Game Below.