The 2011 MLS All-Star roster was revealed last week, and I’m just getting around to pondering whether or not I care about it. In the end, I really don’t. It would be nice if MLS could defeat Manchester United, but at this point I’m not really expecting them to. Why? Because the roster Hans Backe selected kind of sucks.
I have major concerns about the lack of wide midfielders and actual defensive defenders on this team. Tim Ream and Jamison Olave are among the best center backs in MLS, but when they get subbed out at halftime, there’s a big dropoff to Matt Besler.
The MLS All-Star roster includes only six midfielders, and only two true wingers – David Beckham and Brad Davis. So will they be playing the full 90 minutes? No, of course not. So Backe will likely have to play Nick LaBrocca, Omar Cummings, or Chris Wondolowski out of their best positions. Why not bring Chris Pontius instead of Cummings? He’s an actual winger, and still has three more goals this season than the Jamaican forward.
With as many forwards (six) as midfielders, I guess Backe intends on his team having to play from behind? With this roster, it sure seems likely.
Backe selected three members of the New York Red Bulls for his gameday roster - two of which actually deserve it. Juan Agudelo has three fewer goals than Charlie Davies. Dude, Backe doesn’t even start Agudelo in MLS. Why give his own players another game during what’s already a brutal summer schedule for his team? If I was Backe, I wouldn’t have selected any Red Bulls players. His team is in the middle of a battle for first place!
Actually, wait. If I was Backe, I probably would select the entire Red Bulls starting lineup to play in the All-Star Game, after resting them for New York’s regular season match against FC Dallas this past Saturday instead. That seems more in line with his organization’s priorities.
For all the criticism I’m giving him, I do appreciate the fact that Backe selected all eight of the players voted by fans to play in the game (who aren’t otherwise occupied with injuries or Concacaf Champions’ League duty). By selecting the fan-vote players, he’s giving the fans what they want, and that’s part of what an All-Star Game should be about.
But then he supplements these popular players with other players who are neither popular, nor very good. Why does Tally Hall get called in ahead of Nick Rimando? The Houston Dynamo have given up 26 goals this season, which is largely mediocre, and yet they have a goalkeeper and two defenders (Corey Ashe and Geoff Cameron) on the team. How about Carlos Valdes of the revitalized Philadelphia Union defense?
Luckily, this game doesn’t matter. I’ll still be rooting for the MLS All-Stars on Wednesday night at 8:30 PM on ESPN2, but I’m not really happy about it.