CHESTER, Pa. – From the Major League Soccer side, All-Star games are about holding serve.
If the home team wins, everybody rightly points out that Chelsea is just days into a months-long adventure, hardly fit and just looking not to pull a darn hammy. All vagaries of motivation fall squarely on MLS side. So when Chelsea loses, we all just shrug and order another beer.
Truly, no one believes that a collection of a few good and a few great MLS men can conspire to cook up a better soccer soup than Chelsea. As some people put it sarcastically on Twitter, Wednesday’s 3-2 win outside Philadelphia “means MLS is better than Barcelona, right?”
On the other hand, if Chelsea – or some other European heavyweight that becomes All-Star opposition du jour – prevails, then everyone makes it a referendum on league quality, an alleged demonstration of confounded MLS inferiority.
So, as long as Ben Olsen’s team didn’t get run out of PPL Park (as the All-Stars did over the last two years), we’re not assigning much significance one way or the other. We just smile at a nice, 3-2 match and then commence to arguing about EPL and MLS and making better milkshakes or whatever.
But if we spin the ball around and look at it from another side, a win for the MLS All-Stars is really something of a shocker. Consider the rosters:
For Chelsea, 9 of 11 starters are full internationals who play regularly for their countries. Six more off the bench can be considered current internationals.
For Major League Soccer? Just two.
Even if you count David Beckham and Thierry Henry – and we probably should, since they are former internationals who have reached a certain age, but ones who represented the gold standard when they were on top of the world – you only arrive at the number four.