Will you watch the MLS All-Star game?
Like other major sports leagues in North America, Major League Soccer takes a mid-season break for the All-Star game. The players selected to play in the match are voted on by the fans and the game is normally high scoring, just like in any other professional sports league in the United States. But there is one major difference I am curious to get some opinions on from the fans. The MLS All-Stars do not play each other in a traditional East vs. West game, at least anymore. Instead, the chosen All-Stars form one team and play a well known, normally European club team in a match nationally televised on ESPN. This year’s MLS All-Stars will be facing off against AS Roma from Italy.
Roma finished sixth in the Italy’s top flight league, Serie A, last season behind Juventus, AC Milan, Inter Milan, Udinese and Fiorentina. Finishing in sixth place has left them out of the UEFA Champions League once again. It is safe the say that the top three teams in Italy throughout history have been Juventus, AS Milan and Inter Milan. Those team sit in the top tier of clubs for me. The second tier includes this year’s opponent Roma. They have spent every season in Italy’s top flight expect one back in the 1950’s, winning the championship three times.
The team Roma has brought to Kansas City is highlighted by Italian national team legend Francesco Totti, Roma legend Daniele De Rossi and US national team midfielder Michael Bradley. For American fans, getting to see Bradley up close, back in his home country should be a treat. In his recent press conference, he spoke on how he feels coming back to the states to play in this match.
The problem I have with bringing in a team like AS Roma is that besides the players I just mentioned, the casual American fan doesn’t know who to watch in this match. Let’s be perfectly honest here, most “casual” soccer fans haven’t even heard of Roma. Like I mentioned, most associations with the Serie A relate to both teams in Milan and Juventus. Many soccer followers consider the Serie A to be the third, forth or even fifth best league in the world now and Roma hasn’t even finished in the top four to qualify for a Champions League place the last two years. So what reasons would cause fans to get excited about watching this match?
Despite the lack of household names such as Wayne Rooney, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo this game should be entertaining. Roma were among the league leaders in goals scored (71) last season and in goals allowed (56). They have a solid young core of up and coming players and should be looking to start their season off on the right foot after ending last season on a sour note and let’s also not forget that the MLS All-Stars will be putting a great deal of talent on the field themselves. Veterans Thierry Henry and Robby Keane will lead a solid group of young, rising, U.S stars such as Graham Zusi, Kyle Beckerman, Omar Gonzales and Matt Besler. All four of these players shined at different times over the past month during the championship run in the Gold Cup.
With all that said, will you be watching tomorrow night? If so, why? I think it is understood we can’t bring in Manchester United or Chelsea every single year, but are you satisfied with Roma as the opponent? Personally, I am content with it but I also follow most teams closer than the average fan. It is always fun to watch the best players in the league either compete against each other or together and I look forward to a competitive match when the MLS All-Stars and AS Roma square off tomorrow.