Kyle Tapper

MLS All Star Game, Not American All Star Game

Created on Aug. 06, 2014 12:43 PM EST

It is undeniable that the MLS is growing.

After another wave of expansion in 2015, MLS will tally 22 teams in large and small markets alike. But the impact of the MLS on American soccer may be blown out of proportion. Because the USMNT fielded a multitude of MLS players in the World Cup thanks to high profile moves from Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey, Americans have adopted the notion that developing the MLS into a big league with big names equals a more talented and competitive national team. However, the growth and popularity of the MLS is not as tied to the success of the USMNT as many would think or expect. And here's why:

This year the MLS All Stars take on Bayern Munich in another ploy to market competitive balance between talent in the MLS and the rest of the world. The game is also a big money maker for the league. Nevertheless, if the MLS were a good measuring tool for the development of the USMNT, it would be logical to assume the MLS would be dominated by homegrown players. That, however, is not the case.

This year, 13 of the 28 MLS All Stars are internationals.

The best players in the MLS, the league that has become a representation of the health of American soccer, are only marginally American born. 

Of course, the argument could be made that an influx of talented European players proves the success and competitiveness of the league. And those players will improve the development of American born players. But if that's your argument, wouldn't American born players be better suited to go to Europe where the best European players practice their trade?

I love the MLS and I love the growing popularity of the sport in the United States. However, it's time to understand that the success of the MLS doesn't represent the success of the USMNT. For the USMNT to field the same level of talent as the rest of the world, American players have to go to Europe. And that's ok. What is best for the MLS is not necessarily what is best for the USMNT.

The MLS will be just fine with the absence of the best American player because it has become an international league with global representation that makes the league incredibly marketable. So, as you watch the game tonight, remember that this is the MLS All Star Game, not the American All Star Game.
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