SmorgasBorg: The All-Star opponent that tops them all
The consensus is that the MLS All-Star Game format is the best in US sports.
But what if there was a twist that can perhaps make it even more appetizing?
After Tuesday’s All-Star announcement unveiling Philadelphia as hosts, speculation surronding the All-Stars' opponent immediately gravitates to the big name clubs that have yet to participate in the summer event, and there are many: Manchester City, Arsenal, AC Milan, Inter Milan, Juventus and the list goes on.
And the rumors that will gain steam will invariably revolve around those teams that are already making plans for US trips like Liverpool and AS Roma.
But there is a rival out there who would offer a slightly more intriguing matchup than any of these traditional super clubs: MLS All-Stars vs. Mexican All-Stars.
Not only would it be a matchup on even terms – two All-Star teams gathered together with a few days to practice – but it would also be one that would succeed in stoking the USA vs. Mexico rivalry, which never gets old for the US and Mexican soccer fan.
The Mexican Priméra División has dabbled in All-Star Games in recent history, including some held on US soil. The "Bimbo Stars" match held in Monterrey in May 2003 used a format that included the Mexican nationals taking on the foreign contingent of players in that same league. Why not combine the two?
While MLS and the Mexican league would undoubtedly be able to find common ground regarding television and commercial interests, the primary issue would relate to scheduling. The MLS All-Star Game has typically been played in late July, while the Mexican league season usually resumes with the Apertura campaign around that same time. It's not an easy obstacle to overcome, but not impossible.
Sure, Oribe Peralta, Christian Benítez, Carlos Salcido, José Francisco Torres and Marco Fabián are not the draw that Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs and Javier “Chicharito” Hernández have been in the last two editions. But this All-Star Game would be about rivalry.
It’s as close to USA vs. Mexico as you can get in an All-Star Game. And really, nothing beats that.