Once a year Major League Soccer is given the opportunity to test themselves against one of Europe’s finest teams in the All-Star Game. It gives us the chance to see where the ‘benchmark’ is, so to speak, as North America’s premier form of soccer entertainment continues to impress and grow as the years go on.
As reported by Pro Soccer USA and ESPN, this year it will be the turn of Atletico Madrid to try and prove to the world that the Europeans are still the top dogs. Of course, winning the last four World Cups certainly helped in that regard, but bragging rights are important – and it’ll be fascinating to see what happens here.
The next step
One man who has always been fascinated to see what it’s like to be on the MLS side of things in games like this is Bastian Schweinsteiger, who actually played against the MLS All-Stars as part of Bayern Munich’s first team five years ago.
“I spoke to teammates, they liked it in Portland [in 2014], and I was impressed by the atmosphere there and the ceremony before the game and everything around, it was great to see,” Schweinsteiger said.
“I really kept an eye on [the league], and … my brother was at the game, and I said to him, ‘Look, actually this is pretty cool, everything here, so maybe one day I can join MLS,'” he said. “And it happened.”
“Of course, you feel honored to represent MLS in these sorts of games,” Schweinsteiger said, “because it means a lot for the league.”
In short, that’s the kind of attitude you need to have at this level – especially when you’re trying to grow an entire league, or inspire a generation, from the ground up. It’s not like this is going to be an overnight success by any stretch of the imagination, and it’s not like one win is going to prove anything in the grand scheme of the balance of power.
Most of the All-Stars aren’t going to be homegrown American stars in the eyes of many fans, but none of that matters. The appeal of this league, regardless of where that appeal comes from, is what we like to see. Nobody knows what is waiting around the next corner and if you can’t seize opportunities like this, then what’s the point?
In terms of a prediction we believe Atletico will just have too much for the All-Stars, but we still believe it’s going to be pretty close. The Spaniards will be able to edge them out in a really tight game, and from there, we can expect to see continued growth and development as we look ahead to the future.
Nothing is perfect in this game and we are all well aware of that, and there are some issues that need to be rectified before the MLS can reach the level of its other top four counterparts in North America. Still, the future is bright, and the revolution is coming.