assuming we qualify.
As far as this All-Star Game goes I'm glad it's East vs. West. Having an MLS All-Star team play Real Madrid would have been fun, but it also would have had its drawbacks for sure. From a commentating standpoint I really wasn't looking forward to trying to explain how great these players are while they are on their vacation. It wouldn't have been the best way to introduce some of our players to an ABC Sports audience when we would have been spending all our time following Beckham and Ronaldo around. Regardless of who would have won that game I'm sure it would have been a good show -- but not all that we would have been hoping for.
I'm really disappointed for Clint Dempsey and Pablo Mastroeni, who are both going to miss the game. Injuries are never fun. Dempsey's is just another reason to believe that The Curse of the Bambino extends to soccer in Boston, too. Pablo's is a blessing in disguise as far as playing in Colorado. I went to see the Rapids practice the other day and I half-expected them to be running around in strait-jackets. But what is really too bad is that he will not be available to help the U.S. team in its qualification effort. We need him healthy.
Let me put my two cents in for Diego Gutierrez and Ramiro Corrales, a couple of All-Star snubs that I hope get rewarded by filling the places left by the injured players. Maybe it's just because it looks so much better when you are left-footed? Or maybe it's just because they are very seldom recognized for being very good soccer players (and NO, I'm not just saying that because they are both ex-teammates ... remember I played for just about everybody).
Having said that, the most obvious snub is Colorado 'keeper Joe Cannon. I hope he's not impressing Bruce Arena because there is no way Rapids coach Tim Hankinson will let him go anywhere if he wasn't willing to let Pablo go. That's another reason why there aren't a lot of players in this league who would welcome a trade to God's country. Chris Carrieri turned out to be the luckiest of all ... and I was feeling sorry for him at the beginning of the year. Bottom line: Joe Cannon has been All-Star caliber this year. It's not his fault that his team hasn't been very good.
There are several other All-Stars who have been great this year. Chicago's Henry Ring has turned out to be a wonderful replacement for the once-irreplacable Zach Thornton. The Fire's Jimmy Curtin and the Galaxy's Chris Albright will do their best to represent their Philly hometown the best they can (and maybe someday they'll get a chance to play there). Dallas' Ronnie O'Brien is a pleasant surprise -- it's always good to see someone have success after a tough injury. San Jose's Brian Ching is better then everybody thought he was. Galaxy head coach Sigi Schmid dumped him for Carlos Ruiz ... and now they are both leading the league in goals. I wonder who makes more between those two? I guess the question is how much more.
If I were Ching I would try to convince the league that being from Hawaii entitles him to a salary closer to what international players make ... since the foreigners always seem to make more money then the Americans do in this league. Hey, it's worth a shot. For that matter, I'm thinking about changing my name and attempting at being discovered in Brazil for the new Utah franchise. How about Wynaldinho? Think that would fly? Me neither.
Lastly, we have one more game to talk about. The 1994 reunion team vs. former MLS foreigners. Talk about getting the chance to kick the guys who made more money. Man, this is it. Are you kidding? Valderrama, Etcheverry, Gough, Nowak, Hernandez, Campos? I like Carlos Hermosillo. He is one guy I won't kick. The rest of them are on my list. Rumor has it that Futbol 4 Peace, a United Nations charity, will be involved with this game. Maybe that's a good idea, all things considered. I'm sure that the American guys will do their best to put on a good show.
All joking aside, this is a game for the fans. Understanding the purpose of a All-Star Game and the spirit behind it is the goal ... and I think there should be plenty of goals in this game. You see, even if you never put on the U.S. national team strip or played in MLS, it's a wonderful gesture by Commissioner Don Garber to honor the guys who helped start the league. The 1994 World Cup is where it all started. The guys who participated in that World Cup and went on to play or coach in MLS are the proudest of where things are today, and I'm sure we will, as we have done on numerous occasions, give you everything we got. We'll try to give you blood ... theirs of course (kidding ... I'm only kidding). Enjoy.
Catch Eric this weekend playing in the Celebration Game on MLSnet.com. Do you have feedback on Wynalda's feedback? Please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Major League Soccer or its clubs.