Saturday was Major League Soccer's annual quest to stage an All-Star Game. While such mid (or late) season exhibitions are a staple of other American sports, it's never really worked for MLS. For one things, soccer has natural built in all-star contests in regular competitions between national teams. For another, the usually lax attitude that players have towards all-star games produces things like 6-6 games that don't resemble the real thing. But, MLS wants to fit in, and in the last few years has come up with the idea of having a team of MLS All-Stars play a club from overseas.
This year, the opponent was two-time defending English champions Chelsea FC. Chelsea have become famous for the free-spending ways of its Russian billionaire owner (Chelsea spends more money on payroll than the Yankees with fewer players). Despite the hype (they're not the best team in the world, or even Europe, for that matter - ask Barcelona), they're a very good team and gave the MLS guys quite a test. In the end, MLS pulled out a 1-0 win on a great Dwayne DeRosario goal and some superb defending. While that's cause for mild applause, the overwrought celebrations in the wake of the game make the league look too needy. As Ives Galarcep puts it over at ESPN.com:
Call the painful scene a product of finally having some real ammunition to show the league's detractors that MLS does play some quality soccer. That is, if you believe a win in an exhibition against a team just starting its preseason is some sort of landmark moment for the league. Don't believe the hype. The win wasn't meaningless, but it was nowhere near as meaningful as the match's broadcast and several articles written in the aftermath would suggest.Is a little perspective too much to ask? In the end, MLS doesn't deserve our support because we can beat Chelsea or Barcalona or anybody else on a given day. It deserves out support because it's our league, for all its flaws.