July 27, 2016
MLS all-star game needs a makeover
By Michael Lewis
NYC FC head coach Patrick Vieira doesn't like the fact that Andrea Pirlo (above) won't be at training for several days this week.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
OK, I'll try not to waste too much of your time about this particular subject, because just about every other writer between New York and San Jose, Calif. has had an opinion on it. But I still have to get this off my chest.
Yeah, it's about the Major League Soccer all-star game and the league's opponents.
I will be watching the game on TV, not because I want to, but because I have to.
I have to admit I am not excited about it. If the MLS all-stars beat Arsenal, so what? And if the English Premier League side defeats the domestic side, what does it mean?
With so many foreign teams touring the United States this time of the year, the game just about gets lost in the shuffle.
Both New York coaches, who were embroiled in controversy after the Red Bulls' 4-1 victory over New York City FC, actually had similar thoughts about the all-star game
Last week New York City FC head coach Patrick Vieira complained about the fact he will be without two key players -- striker David Villa and midfielder Andrea Pirlo -- for several days.
"I don't care at all about that," he said. "It's really frustrating because you are losing players going to play an exhibition game and we have games that we have that are more important than that exhibition game."
On Wednesday, it was Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch's turn to be concerned when talking about the Red Bulls' lone representative, midfielder Sacha Kljestan.
“We’ve recommended 45 minutes; I would think they would play him only 45 minutes. Then I heard he he’s going to be miked up for the game which makes me feel they are going to play him longer which doesn’t make me so happy,” Marsch was quoted by BigAppleSoccer.com contributing editor Kristian R. Dyer Wednesday.
“Listen, I want Sasha to go and enjoy that experience. He’s earned the right to be there and those are always special experiences in your career.”
It's time to change the format of the game, at least for a few years.
If you're going to have an all-star game, let's see some more of the league's best players.
Here are a few ideas for a new format:
* Go back to the traditional format of East playing West.
* You can go a step further with that idea. Pick captains -- veteran players -- of both teams and have them pick all-stars not unlike we used to do with sandlot ball teams when we played games in the streets. Peter Wilt, of Chicago Fire and Indy Eleven front office fame, actually suggested that idea to me years ago (it could have been more BigAppleSoccer.com was born).
* Make it Americans vs. foreign players. That certainly would be a unique tactic, reviving the format from the 1998 game. It probably wouldn't prove a thing, but it could be a lot of fun.
* Or have the U.S. national team play the MLS all-stars. Something different. And heck, it would give head coach Jurgen Klinsmann an opportunity to get an extra playing date to check out some new players.
Listen, if you have any ideas on how to change the all-star game format, I would love to hear them. I realize there are more pressing issues in the sport, but I had to get it off my chest.