What Kansas City's All Star Game Tells Us

All-Star Game solidifies Kansas City as soccer capital
by Skylar Rolstad   |   Monday, August 05, 2013

MLS All-Star Game, Sporting Park, MLS

“It's an unbelievable experience and now you see how far the sport is coming in the Kansas City area,” said former Kansas City Wizard Preki on Saturday about taking in the MLS All-Star Game just 4 days earlier.

He and Meola were honored at halftime of Sporting KC's match against New York as they were inducted in Sporting's inaugural Sporting Legends class.

While Kansas City's support was as unbelievable as Preki recounted, the game that took place on the pitch was not quite as Alexi Lalas said after the game on ESPN2's broadcast – MLS' season isn't canceled halfway through, and the league doesn't have any kind of debilitating setback.

The MLS All-Star game is a friendly at the end of the day. Sure, it meant something, even AS Roma's players and management expressed some conviction toward facing the All-Stars in front of a packed stadium and on national television.

Consider one thing, though: Roma's legendary midfielder Francesco Totti played 87 minutes, and he's 36 years old. Michael Bradley played 90 minutes for Roma, as did Roma's brand new signing Kevin Strootman.

In most friendlies, a team's marquee players would be subbed out early to avoid injury. Roma tried to win this game because they respected MLS.

The All-Stars centerback combination was interestingly Sporting KC teammates Aurelien Collin and Matt Besler. This tandem should have been perfect for matching up against players like Tallo and Totti, but the problem was probably in the midfield, where Roma could break easily after catching Kyle Beckerman venturing upfield.

On AS Roma's 1st goal, Besler had set the line very high, typical of a Peter Vermes gameplan, and the pass from Alessandro Florenzi had been slid past him. Collin had to react quickly to Strootman latching onto the pass, but was unsuccessful in doing so, and actually had the ball deflect off his foot for the goal. 

It was evident that AS Roma was connecting passes with precision, purpose and style. Conversely, the MLS All-Stars looked just what they were – 11 players that for the most part had never played together. As far as 2 teams trying to win a game, Roma was much more ready and able to win than MLS. 

Is MLS being too overzealous in trying to take down world powers of the sport? I don't think so. The All-Star Game is an event for entertainment. The All Star team did devise a gameplan and play the game, but at the end of the day, Kansas City did a great job of making itself known to the country.

Despite what happened on the field at Sporting Park, KC solidified its newly found status as Soccer Capital of America. A sellout crowd of 21,175 gathered and there were far more MLS jerseys in this crowd than Roma shirts. 

The verdict: while MLS was ousted by AS Roma in this season's All Star installment, the game does not have much of a bearing as far as a barometer of MLS' standing as a league. MLS Commissioner Don Garber and company are not in over their heads, as they carefully climb the rungs of world soccer in hopes of one day having the prowess of their European counterparts. 

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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