New England Soccer Today

The Local Fan’s Guide to the All-Star Game

MLS fans, coaches, and players may have conspired (or not) to shut the Revolution out of this year’s All-Star Game, but that doesn’t necessarily render it meaningless to the New England soccer fan.

With the league’s midsummer classic on tap, we give you plenty of reasons to watch the league’s best against Real Madrid on Wednesday.

1. Former Revolution defender and native New Englander Michael Parkhurst (Cranston, R.I.) will suit up for the All-Stars. The current Atlanta United captain was named to his fifth All-Star game, and hey, it’s always neat to a see the spotlight shine on a local guy.

2. It may be a glorified preseason friendly for Madrid, but make no mistake: the Spanish giants are sure to put on a show, even without Cristiano Ronaldo.

3. MLS All-Star games, regardless of the opponent, are typically both action-packed and competitive, something few pro leagues can boast about their iterations. Don’t even get me started on the NFL’s Pro Bowl.

4. It’s the perfect opportunity to debate whether MLS should return to the East-West format. Remember: it’s not real unless you take it to Twitter (and @ Alexi Lalas, too). And if you want to kick it up a notch, @ Ted Westervelt while you’re at it.

5. Those All-Star jerseys, though. The return of the ’94 USA denim kit motif has been long overdue. On the flip side, if you’re not a fan of the design, you won’t be tempted to fork over the money for the Lee Nguyen (or even Diego Fagundez) model.

6. Watching four of Chicago’s best players putting themselves at risk for injury and/or loss of fitness for a friendly only days before they face the Revolution can only aid the locals. Am I right?

7. To the above point, not having to worry about a Revolution star pick up a knock or even diminish his ability to contribute for a huge road match against a conference foe on Saturday is also another win for local fans. You can’t get hurt if you’re not playing.

8. Two words: hate watch. Hate watch Revolution killers Diego Valeri, Sebastian Giovinco, and Ignacio Piatti. Hate watch them all potentially set themselves up to get embarrassed by Madrid’s B-teamers. Watch, and then laugh. Then laugh some more.

9. Historical symmetry: 23 years ago, the opening ceremony for USA ’94 was held at Soldier Field. This came at a time in which we had no true division 1 league and National Team matches drew four-figure crowds. On Wednesday, Soldier Field will host the league’s 21st All-Star game at a time when the sport is healthier than ever in the U.S.

10. Commissioner Don Garber usually drops big news during his halftime interview, usually related to expansion or rules or some big-name signing. It’ll be interesting to see what the Commish has up his sleeve this time around.

11. If the All-Stars win, then the aforementioned Lalas – the original Revolution All-Star (along with Welton!) – is apt to say something controversial/dumb/prescient. This alone is worth tuning in.

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