MLS has released its ballot for the 2008 All-Star game, and it's pretty wacky. Wilman Conde, the unhappy Chicago defender who's played only 107 minutes in three appearances for the Fire, is up for All-Star honors, as is Abel Xavier, who's played 224 minutes this season for an LA defense giving up 2+ goals/game. I know All-Star games are big popularity contests, but with a topsy-turvy start to the season (Columbus up, Houston and DC down), one wonders if the most deserving players will make it to the pitch on July 24th.
Then there's the opponent for the MLS All-Stars. West Ham United finished 10th in the EPL this season, and frankly offers little excitement for the hard-core, or even casual soccer fan. Previously, MLS sides have faced off with Chelsea, Chivas (Mex.), and Celtic, all teams with large global fan bases. Even the 2005 match vs. Fulham had the "Brian McBride Returns to Columbus" storyline. While West Ham has a long history, the only opponents MLS should consider are the storied clubs of Europe or South America; Man U., Rangers, Milan, Inter, Roma, Juventus, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern, Bayer Leverkusen, Boca Juniors, River Plate, Vasco da Gama, Santos, etc.
Lastly, there's word that the rabid TFC fan base may use the All-Star game (at Toronto's MBO Field) to stage a protest of a proposed move by the CFL's Toronto Argonauts to the stadium. So much for soccer-specific stadia! Yuck!
The match will certainly sellout, but with questionable players, a fan protest, and a weak opponent, July 24th may be a day to stay longer at the pool, get some ice cream, or kick the ball around with your kids. Yawn...