Does MLS victory really mean anything at all-star game?
By Pat Martin, MLS Editor
Toronto, ON (Sports Network) -
Major League Soccer's All-Stars have gone undefeated against some of the world's most well known club teams over the past five years, but does it really mean anything in the grand scheme of things?
In 2003, the MLS All-Stars topped Mexican side CD Guadalajara 3-1. In 2005, they toppled the English Premier League's Fulham FC 4-1, and the past two seasons they outscored world powers Chelsea and Celtic of the EPL and Scottish Premier League, respectively, by a combined 3-0 for two more wins.
But do games that pit the top players from MLS against a club that is in its preseason really show how well the league stacks up against the world?
Los Angeles Galaxy forward and MLS All-Star starter Landon Donovan thinks so.
"We aren't getting points for this game," he said. "We aren't moving up in the standings for this game but I think being a part of the all-star game with this format that has taken place, when we are in the locker room and when we are around the hotel, guys understand this is a big opportunity to show that we are good enough."
Do games that pit the top players from MLS against a club that is in its preseason really show how well the league stacks up against the world?.
How so, Landon?
"When we get a chance to play against big quality teams from other parts of the world, that competitiveness naturally comes out and makes you want to play the game," Donovan said. "You're proud and you want to show yourself well, you don't want to get embarrassed because these teams are good enough and if you take it lightly they can embarrass you. And we want to win and show that we're good."
But just because a team that includes some of the top players at every position in MLS can squeak past a club team that is three weeks away from its regular season and usually only plays its regulars for limited minutes doesn't mean MLS has arrived as a top-world league.
How would Chelsea, which lost 1-0 to the MLS All-Stars in 2006, fair against a Spanish La Liga All-Star side that featured Lionel Messi, Robinho, Ruud van Nistelrooy, David Villa and Iker Casillas, among other stars?
Probably a lot worse than 1-0, even if the English power was in mid-season form.
On Thursday, the MLS All-Stars will try to make it five-for-five against club teams when they take on West Ham United - a middle-of-the-table-quality EPL side - at BMO Field in Toronto.
"We want to show people what we're made of and this is the type of way to do that," MLS All-Star and New England Revolution coach Steve Nicol said.
I'm not so sure anyone outside MLS - or many inside - really believe that.