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The MLS All-Star Game That Could Have Been

Landon Donovan 3 ( 

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MLS fans have grown accustomed to the MLS All-Star Game Format of having a team of MLS stars face a foreign club, and given the previous alternative of East vs. West, there haven't been an overwhelming number of complaints about the current format.

The reality is that the whole MLS vs. some random mid-level foreign team has grown a bit stale and should have been changed by now. Unfortunately, it hasn't been and there aren't any signs that the format will be changed.

So what alternative might be consider in place of the current all-star format? It is one I have advocated in the past, one that bears consideration. Having the league's American stars taking on the top MLS players from the rest o the world would create some good competition, a great game, and some potential storylines to help sell the game.

Such as? Well here's a look at what this year's MLS USA and World All-Star Teams could have looked like:


————Landon Donovan——-Conor Casey——————

————————–Davy Arnaud——————————

Brad Davis——————————————-Stuart Holden

—————–Kyle Beckerman—-Ricardo Clark—————-

Geoff Cameron——–Chad Marshall—————Tim Ward

—————————-Kasey Keller—————————

MLS World Stars

—————–Fredy Montero——-Omar Cummings————

———————–Cuauhtemoc Blanco————————–

Marco Pappa————————————-Freddie Ljungberg

—————–Shalrie Joseph—Osvaldo Alonso—————-

Gonzalo Segares—–Jhon Kennedy Hurtado—–Wilman Conde

——————————Pat Onstad—————————-

I left out Toronto FC, D.C. United and Red Bulls players to align with the CONCACAF Champions League match conflicts. Also, Guillermo Barros Schelotto is missing because he is currently injured.

Again, the teams are based on form this season, not just on reputation, which is why David Beckham isn't on here. Frankie Hejduk's the one


What do you think of this All-Star format? Would you prefer it to the current format of MLS playing foreign clubs? Who would be on your all USA MLS All-Star Team? How about your World Team?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. A lot off good players are left out. Maybe when Garber significantly raises the cap, we can have East Vs. West again.

  2. If they’re going to keep an All-Star game, it seems clear to me that this should be the format, going forward. However, I’m sure the game will be used again next year as a preseason training for some European side, post World-Cup. A shame, because it could be used to showcase both the American and foreign talent in the league, most of which won’t be playing in the Cup.

  3. Uhm, didn’t MLS already do that one year? Get with the program!

    I like the current format. I like it a lot. No one really takes the All-Star Game seriously. It’s just a fun event in which you can see what the best or most popular players in MLS would look like playing on the same team!

    Everybody needs to relax. The All-Star Game also brings a foreign club into the fold so we can see different players playing here in the US. It’s fun. You pull for the All-Stars but almost nobody is really treating this like an important game. It’s just fun.

    Or, have you all forgotten what fun is?

  4. Really? Bitching about the format that is pitting them against Everton?? The 5th best team in EPL..Who do you want to play here that won’t make you bitch? Milan?Chelsea? It’s freaking MLS for goodness sake.
    What makes you think that a format change is warranted? Lets see the crappy east vs. the sucky west, I’m sure we can pick 36 QUALITY ALL STARS to make it an interesting game, half the list you have up there is garbage by world standards, but that’s right, MLS doesn’t have to follow world standards…

  5. Someone mentioned MLS All-Stars vs. Mexican League All-stars.

    This i like. And it should be rotated to… EPL All-stars, La Liga All-Stars, etc. That’d be too awesome.

  6. Perhaps I’m in the minority here, but I enjoy watching the best of the MLS compete against an opponent from a top European League. I think it markets the MLS talent to the rest of the world and helps to improve the league’s reputation, (even if the effect is minimal).

  7. Also MLS should have more entertainment with the All-Star game such as free-kick competitions, 3 vs. 3 futsal, juggling competitions, etc. To add more fun for players and Fans.

  8. To be honest I prefer the East vs. West Conference battles as an all-star game, and I do miss those days when it was on a weekend so a bigger audience would watch. The current format is ok, but it isn’t showing enough of the MLS talent on the field, since the opposing team is International. With East vs. West you have the opportunity to showcase more of the best MLS talent playing together.

  9. Or how about this — MLS All-STars vs International legends —

    bring back Valderrama, Maradona, Pele, Zidane, Etcheverry, Nowak, Ted Eck, Bergkamp, Batistuta, etc. to play against the MLS side.

  10. @Rossi is Judas

    . In the past when it was USA vs. The World the game was a blow out.

    Thank you for remembering, I thought I was the only one. US vs World would not work. like in ’98 the 6-1 blow out just wasn’t any fun to watch.

  11. I like the idea of an MLS-USA team vs MLS-world, but I’d personally be all for doing away with the all star game completely unless the game is given some meaning. Even something as small as a cash purse and a trophy for the winning team’s players would be a start.

    I would also be in favor of doing away with the mid-season format and choosing the all-star team at the end of every season, and then opening the following season with an all-star weekend that features not just a 90 minute exhibition, but some skill competitions a la the NBA.

  12. @ Hopper,

    The players are actually the ones who are big advocates of the All-Star game. Under the collective bargaining agreement they get bonus money if they’re selected as an all-star. Plus it gives players a much needed break in the middle of a very busy season.

    I like the current format. I’d like it better if it was an elite team every year (Barcelona, Manchester United, Boca Juniors, etc…) but it’s still fun to watch, which is what it’s supposed to be all about. In the past when it was USA vs. The World the game was a blow out.

  13. Keep it an all-MLS All Star game. Randomly pick the teams (why does it have to be based on some geography anyway?) and get on with it.

    People, you need to get used to the idea that it is an EXHIBITION game. It does not have to be competition for some higher purpose, such as determining home field advantage for a conference, or something like that. Have the exhibiton if the sponsors want it, have fun, hold it in some large city that does not yet have an MLS franchise, and be done with it.

  14. Here’s one more thought/idea that might have some marketing legs –

    Perhaps we should play the Russians All Stars in an all star game since they are the only other league going full tilt that aligns with our season’s schedule. Mid season form vs. mid season form of 2 leagues trying to gain respect around the world plus the America vs. Russia that the networks and none soccer fans would love. It isn’t like they have become the new Denmark under Putin.

    What do you think?

  15. All-star games are pointless. Though I like the idea of having one or two days for friendlies versus European teams. That’d be a nice change of pace.

    Then again, the large problem is fixture congestion. So I think MLS needs to look at that first.

  16. the reason the all-star game works is because of soccer’s step-child status in the US. This all star game (and it’s various manifestations) is a kind of barometer to how well we are doing.

    Yeah, I know all the “it’s preseason for the Euro clubs” etc arguments, and that is true.

    But until we gain total world credibility and our MLS league is seen on par with the top 10, these type of games are “exciting” for those who are grasping for something to gauge the development of this sport we love in our country.

    And, since we don’t have a lot of high quality players throughout the league it is nice to get them in concentrated form and show us what they do well.

  17. It would be fun to watch and the best format possible if there is indeed a need for an all star game which I feel is kind of a bush league thing to have in the first place. Ive’s concept above is the best I have seen.

    The goal- the MLS’s mission statement if you will- should be the following:

    20 clubs

    Higher salary cap

    One table

    Best team wins period

    Early August to end of May Season with winter break-difficult I know but necessary.

    More investment in player development academies

    Developing player identification process for inter cites/minorities. There is more talent playing Copa Latino tournament then on most MLS benches for example.

    Maybe some financial incentives could be tossed in for top 4 teams and top drafting spots for bottom 4. And when that’s accomplished get rid of the one league ownership format.

    Salary cap- VERY, VERY GOOD

    League office determining selling price controlling transfer of players-VERY, VERY BAD

  18. Ives,

    We tried this in ’98 and the US mls team destroyed the world team 6-1. In fact I remember Jaime Moreno being really displeased with it, saying it was like playing the US National Team. As I recall, Brian McBride won the MVP. I like the idea of playing an international squad, but the squad needs to be a top 5 team in the world to make the game something to look forward to.

  19. I like an All-Star game, but I think it pretty much died when MLS decided to show it on ESPN 2 on a weeknight. I remember when I was younger, I like watching the east vs west format on Sunday on ABC. Plus they were high scoring with a lot more flair. If I remember correctly, wasn’t there an all-star skills challenge the day before, making the event a weekend thing instead of just one game.

    I would rather see MLS go back and make it a weekend event rather than just one random game on a random night…either that or scrap it all together and put focus on Open Cup like others have said

  20. Bringing in a team that normally doesn’t play in the states is a great idea but with all the European teams now having games in the USA I think your suggested change of US vs the World is a better option. Individual MLS teams can still schedule games vs European opponents making this a win win situation.

  21. I don’t think the All-Star game is going to go away anytime soon, so I will vote for keeping the current format with the league continuing to try to bring in higher profile teams. I like JeffM’s thought that at least we get that team’s/league’s fans for at least one day.

    The atmosphere at any All-Star type game is “subdued.” Have you ever been to an NFL Pro-Bowl? Few people give up a day in paradise, and those that do sit and wonder why.

    Keep the format. Bring in top teams. Chelsea, Inter, Liverpool and Milan are all already in the States. It shouldn’t be that difficult.

  22. I appreciate the MLS All Star game a lot more than the all-star games in the other sports. Mostly because due to the current format, it’s an actual competitive game. Say what you want but they’ve been really good games the past few years, both teams have played hard. It sure beats the old East vs. West contest. Looking at this very simply – we get a good game with very good players, what more can you ask for. Hey it even seemed to win over the snooty portion of Toronto fans who wanted to root for West Ham last year.

  23. I think that, for a young league, the All-Star game is a way (some might say a weak way) to generate revenue (a la Pepsi, et al), make up a few storylines, and take the opportunity to introduce its new stadiums and locations to (hopefully) new consumers. But as MLS continues to grow, I think the All-Star game should fade away.

  24. To the people who are asking “why bother wtih an all-star game?”

    Answer: Because the sponsors of the league (Pepsi to name 1) want the game.

    End of discussion.

  25. I hate the All-Star game. I always have. It is out dated.

    The league is just starting to heat up with some teams showing promise.

    Put some effort into promoting the US Open Cup.

  26. Ives, I know I’ve said it before, but you are totally dead on with this US vs. World All-Stars idea. This would be a great game to watch. It will likely never happen because it would probably have a smaller audience, but this should totally be the way to go.

  27. How about this: NO MORE ALL-STAR GAME! It’s a completely meaningless game, and no one cares about it anyway. Ditch it. There are already too many distractions that pull players away from the MLS regular season.

    Name a Best XI at the end of the season. No need to play a game.

  28. How about true world all-stars from teams around the world vs MLS all-stars? Maybe include a little charity in it too for PR and credibility purposes…
    Lampard—-Xavi—Kaka—-C. Ronaldo
    Evra—-Terry—-Lucio—-Dani Alves
    Howardor any other combo like that would be awesome to watch!


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