The MLS All-Star Game takes place tonight at the recently renamed Exploria Stadium, home of Orlando City, as the MLS All-Stars take on Atlético Madrid. For the league, it’s a chance to show off some of the league’s brightest stars, like Wayne Rooney, Carlos Vela, Josef Martinez, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, against a European opponent. It’s a chance for those stars to have some fun with each other and join together to show off some of the league’s talent.
However, there are some that think it’s a spectacle that doesn’t need to happen, or could happen in a different format that takes the attention away from the lose-lose situation of playing a team from Europe that’s in its preseason. Beat that team, MLS has to hear about how their opponent was in preseason and going up against a cherrypicked team of players who are in midseason form. Lose, and the ever popular narrative that MLS is several levels below that of Europe’s top leagues takes flight. Still, playing a European team brings in fans of that team that may not watch MLS, and the league hopes to convert some of those fans into ones that start following MLS and its players.
The purpose of the All-Star Game is to highlight the talent of the league and show them off to the world. With the league already at 24 teams and expanding to 30 in just a few years, the time may be now to return to the format of East vs. West, where the All-Star Game is one that pits the best of each conference against each other. There are other formats that fans of the league may want the league to consider, all in an effort to put the focus back on the players and not who they may be playing from Europe. Some may even desire for the game to be scrapped altogether, wanting their favorite team’s star player to not get injured in a meaningless friendly and have them ready for the final stretch of the season.
So, the question of the week is: should MLS revamp the All-Star Game? Should they scrap it completely? Or, should they keep the current format of playing a team from abroad? Hit the comments and have your say.