Voices: Andrew Wiebe

Why MLS vs. Liga MX is the perfect All-Star Game and will be anything but an exhibition

All-Star 2021 - MLS vs LigaMX logos

Get ready for the week-long block party North American soccer deserves.

Get ready to jump back and forth between Spanish, English and some Spanglish, too. Get ready to celebrate our soccer culture – no European giant needed, thank you very much – from the Yucatan to the Northwest Territories. Get ready for the epic parties we’ve put off, shout out to modern medicine and science, and a game that’s not so “friendly” and certainly not just another stop on a preseason tour.

Get ready for a new era of the MLS All-Star Game presented by Target, one that’s been a long time coming – we literally had to wait an extra year, after all – and one that doesn’t figure to go away anytime soon, not with the collective present and future of Liga MX and Major League Soccer increasingly intertwined and so obviously mutually beneficial.

Get ready for Chicharito and Carlos Vela vs. Andre Pierre Gignac and Rogelio Funes Mori. Get ready for Bob Bradley vs. … well, we’re not sure yet, but my vote is for either Miguel ‘El Piojo’ Herrera or Tuca Ferretti. Get ready for another front to be opened in the Liga MX vs. MLS rivalry, in which players and fans battle for bragging rights at the same time they come to understand each other even better. Get ready for all eyes to be on us.

Get ready now – and make sure you’ve got alerts set for the ticket drop – because August 25 will come sooner than you think. Just get ready porque estamos juntos for one week but also for a long time to come.

I love the MLS All-Star Game, no surprise there, and not because you’re reading me at Major League Soccer soccer dot com right now. I love it because of the people. There is no other time on the soccer calendar that pulls us all together in one city with one goal: to celebrate, to compete, to collaborate, to connect and to do it all on our terms and in our own way.

Because the reality is I miss all of you, every single person who loves this sport, this league and this region. I need to be around you. You give me life. You give me energy. You give me an unerring belief that this sport of ours will one day be what all imagine it can and will be in North America.

How far have we come since 2012, my first All-Star Game in person, when MLS knocked off mighty Chelsea? That was 10 expansion clubs ago. Where will we be – Mexican, American and Canadian soccer – in five years, when North America will once again come together to put on the most ambitious World Cup anyone has ever seen? Can you even imagine?

I can’t. You can’t. And yet we can’t help but dream – together. That’s what All-Star week is about. Our collective imagination. What would happen if the best players in MLS and the best players in Liga MX faced off? Who would win? Who would add another chapter to their collective legend? Who might you meet that becomes a lifelong connection? What might have been if this had been the format from the very start?

We imagined just that on Extratime, and let me tell you, it’s enough to make you dizzy.

Speaking of which…

C’mon, Landon.

At this point, what’s one more return from retirement? You belong in this game, 39 years young. We don’t need 90 minutes. Just pull on the Galaxy jersey (or keep it 100 in a Loyal kit) for a quick sub appearance, a chance to hear the roar of the crowd as you hit the smelling salts and the fourth official raises the board with your number on it. Just one run in behind. Round the ‘keeper and celebrate with a jumping fist pump, a little something for old-time’s sake.

Too much? You’re right. My imagination is running wild.

See you in Los Angeles! August can’t come soon enough.