Perfect Timing for Kansas City

Sporting Park in Kansas to host the 2013 All-Star Game Wednesday
by Skylar Rolstad   |   Monday, July 29, 2013

MLS All-Star Game, Sporting Park, MLS

When Sporting Kansas City owner Robb Heineman announced that his Kansas City Wizards would be rebranded as Sporting Kansas City to go with a shiny new stadium, Kansas City's soccer culture was not born.

Rather, it had been realized. 

All it took was a dedicated ownership with purpose and the initiative to put a competitive team on the field. Before Sporting KC, the team was unremarkable, but fought. Players that left it all on the field like Davy Arnaud and Jack Jewsbury were what Kansas City has always been about.

It's the undying passion for the game that gave this team, and its fans, a personality. Kansas City has been a soccer city all along, and Sporting Kansas City has finally made it special.

And 25,000 fans at Sporting Park isn't the only thing KC boasts when it proclaims itself the Soccer Capital of America. The city's soccer culture goes from packed MLS stadiums to crowded bars during summer international tournaments to youth soccer clubs to people sprawled out on the couch on Saturday mornings watching their favorite English team on FOX Soccer while half-asleep. 

This week, the entire country turns its spotlight on Sporting Park for the MLS All-Star Game. As if KC hadn't received enough acclaim already from such an impressive team and facility, Wednesday will be yet another day where Kansas City is a display for how far soccer has come in the United States. 

Now is the perfect time for Kansas City to be doing this – 3 years after its rebrand, and 1 year before the next World Cup. 

On the field, Kansas City is a showcase as well. KC's all-star trio, Graham Zusi, Matt Besler, and Aurelien Collin, are not only fan favorites, but Besler and Zusi are quickly becoming staples of the United States Men’s National Team. They are being joined by other national team players like Landon Donovan and Nick Rimando as well as MLS's marquee foreign players like Raul Fernandez of FC Dallas and Tim Cahill of New York.

The game is a friendly against AS Roma, nothing more. But the game means something.

If MLS wins, the world once again knows the product of American players and soccer coaches is of ever-increasing quality.

If AS Roma wins the match, though, some harsh perspective is gained for MLS.

Even Roma midfielder Francesco Totti will not deny that this game has importanceTotti recently said in an interview, "I believe that going up against a team that has players like [Thierry] Henry, [Tim] Cahill, Robbie Keane or my good friend [Marco] Di Vaio will make the game much more than a simple preseason test for us."

You can watch MLS' best take on the Italian power AS Roma on ESPN2 on Wednesday night. It should be yet another exciting installment of the league's All Star Game. Last year's match in Philadelphia ended 3-2 with a late Eddie Johnson goal beating Chelsea. 

NEXT UP: July 31 – MLS All Stars vs. AS Roma, Sporting Park, Kansas City, Kans. 9 p.m. EST, ESPN2.

Skylar ROLSTAD

Nationality:
USA
College:
Univ. of Kansas
Club Domestic:
Sporting KC
Club Foreign:
AC Milan
A student at the University of Kansas. He writes for the Sporting Kansas City club column for Soccer Newsday and is a regular at Sporting Park. His passion for soccer can best be described as unhealthy.
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