19 July 2007

The MLS All Star Game is now On Par with the NFL

I mean, of course, that no one, even hardcore fans of the sport, really cares about the Pro Bowl in Hawaii, and response to this year's festivities in Denver seems more muted than normal. See, we're just like the big sports now!

I think there are two things driving the sense of malaise with which we greet the hoops. First, as wonderful as the 4-nil thrashing of Celtic by DC United was last year, it confirmed a fact long suspected. This is too early for Celtic to be in form, and given how well Celtic would later show in the Champions League, it's clear that a month later for that friendly and the score line would have been much changed. Most of the fans in MLS now accept this, and while the phrase "MLS versus the world" pulls at the heartstrings, it just isn't true. This is the MLS All Stars against preseason, unfit Celtic. Celtic Manager Gordon Strachan is more interested in getting his players into form and fitness than in a result, giving them a run out. We all know this by now, so the sense that this proves anything, win or lose, is lost. When Chelsea came, this wasn't clear yet, but I think we know it now. The argument is settled, the game is meaningless as a test of MLS's standard of play, even of its elite players. Yes, this even applies if the MLS all-stars lose (and they may well lose tonight, simply because it is difficult to figure out a thrown together team). But we know the test in either result is meaningless. That was the one thing that perhaps kept our interest in recent years, and it is gone now.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, international fatigue. The arrival of David Beckham and its attendant press has pretty much dampened the enthusiasm of US fans for the international media. There was a time (a year ago) when international contacts with MLS of any sort were rare moments, punctuation marks of excitement. Now we've had long, rambling, tedious paragraphs since the announcement of Mr. Beckham to LA, and I think many of us don't care. What's worse than being ignored by establishment soccer media? Having them pay attention to you, and then the double insult of having them use the LA Galaxy as representative of MLS, a comparison that is as fair as judging the entire Premiership by Watford last season (okay, that's not quite fair... Charlton then. We'll reserve Watford for RSL). This game no longer provides the rare excitement of seeing the world. We've had the world crammed down our throat for months now, and discovered we didn't like it. It tasted like boiled pork.

So, while I will watch the MLS All-Star Game tonight, I don't have the same enthusiasm for it that I once had, and for the first time I yearn for the old Conference format. And yes, I'll be happy to Celtic run out there tonight. My upbringing (present religious affiliation or lack thereof notwithstanding) predisposes me to support Celtic, and I was thrilled to see them last season, but I will not be partisan in this match. I can hopefully enjoy it as a neutral, which I will. But the huge excitement is not there, it is Celtic, it is the MLS all-stars, and it's a game on TV.

So... whatever. Hail hail-- and blah blah.

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At 19 July, 2007 12:00, Blogger Kinney said...

I completely agree with you. In fact, I don't think I am even going to watch the game. I made plans with friends without even thinking about it, and don't really think the All-Star game is worth backing out of those for. The only reason I would really watch is to see if the All-Star team could put up more points than United did last year.

At 19 July, 2007 14:36, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm looking forward to the game, I always think its interesting to see how MLS matches up against foreign teams, particularly teams with pedigree. Plus, unlike (American) football, even out of season the players still really play. Will also be curious to see how the supporters sections compare-- will there be any discernable "MLS" supporter section?

At 19 July, 2007 14:38, Blogger elopingcamel said...

I think you nailed it on the head. Celtic is my favorite team, so I most definitely will be watching, but I don't think I would if were any other team. I was excited as anybody about Beckham coming here, but I'm so sick of all the media hoopla being shoved down our throats. Rooting against LA will be so much more enjoyable now. Crash and burn Galaxy...

At 19 July, 2007 16:30, Blogger Keving said...

Over here, the celtic news outlets have billed this game as a showgame, one that we, the hoops, should b privliged to be part off.

Great to hear "hardcore" MLS fans view on the game, which makes me think that the hoops have been invited to boost the gate due to the number of ex pats that will travel and boost tv ratings.

Yes, celtic are mid pre-season, with players and management both stating we are in better condition now than when we rolled into DC last year.

But playing players who are at top match sharpness and fitness will be a step up for the hoops.

The all stars start as fav's but i'm hoping the hoops at least put up a show

hail hail


oh, being scottish..i've been fed up wie beckham for years

At 19 July, 2007 17:04, Blogger QJA said...

It's not even a comparison. All of these teams are in preseason form; case in point is last year's win over Chelsea. I'd like to see us repeat that in London come February.

At 20 July, 2007 09:00, Anonymous Anonymous said...

DCU was in much better form in pre-season (in the CCC) than Celtic. Celtic got torn apart by a team that had practiced together twice. Great stuff from the MLS all stars.


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