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An All Star Game Alternative Proposal

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Why invite some foreign club to play against 11 players thrown together at the last minute? I've got a different idea that will be more entertaining and focuses on MLS talent.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

I hate All Star games. Especially ones that are set up the way MLS has them. Fans vote in their "favorite" players to be matched up against a foreign club. That set up alone already sets the the MLS All Stars to fail. No matter how talented the players are in this league, there's little chance that they can compete against an actual team, regardless if they are strictly in pre-season mode. Not to mention, this kind of set up gives off the assumption that MLS' best players can barely compete against the likes of West Ham or Manchester United, further perpetuating the stereotype that this isn't a top notch league worth following in this country.

Because of the format and set up, I've never voted All Star games and most definitely have not voted for any FC Dallas player. Not because I don't want them to get their bonuses but mostly because I'm firmly against the popularity vote which heavily favors teams with large fan bases and has nothing to do with actual talent or skill level. But I'm more than happy to have those teams risk their players in a meaningless match to injury while saving the legs and travel from Dallas players.

That all being said though, I do understand the heart behind the All Star Game. The league wants to show off their talent and it's also a nice way to generate interest and revenue. So the business aspect of the ASG is understandable. So I have a different proposition for the league to consider, one that would satisfy both the fans' desire to see highly entertaining soccer and for the league to also sell tickets, generate buzz and interest and to create cash flow.

Instead of a an actual soccer game, where you suddenly throw 11 different parts together, why not do a skills contest that would showcase the talents of the players and allow the fans to have a lot of fun too? So these are my proposals:

Dribbling Slalom

This one is easy to execute and can produce a lot of excitement. Just set up cones from the halfway line to the touchline and have players dribble at full speed, weaving in and out of them in a little race. Obvious candidates for this would be Fabian Castillo, Darlington Nagbe and Kekutah Manneh.

3v3 Cage Soccer

I'm thinking of paying homage to the Nike - The Cage commercial ran back in the 90s (or was it early 2000s?).

Build a cage, each MLS club sends three players (1 defender, 1 midfielder and 1 forward). First to 5 or 7, tournament style where winning club advances to the next round. This will give fans of all teams relative equal representation and also a very entertaining match where the players can show off their bag of tricks. I mean, who wouldn't want to see Stephen Keel, Mauro Diaz and Blas Perez up against Robbie Keane, Steven Gerrard and Omar Gonzalez?

GK Foot Golf

I don't think there's a large cross over between golf and soccer fans, but this may still be worth exploring. Each team also sends a goalkeeper of their choice and actually dress them up as golfers (khaki shorts, team polo, maybe even throw in that ridiculous hat) and let the keepers go at it, showcasing their long game and also their short game. You can also stage it very much like a golf match where the fans have to quiet or go complete the opposite direction with supporter's groups there loud in voice and doing their best heckling.

Crossbar Challenge

Each team sends one player of their choice to hit the ball from the halfway line with the intent of hitting the crossbar. Very simple, very easy to execute. Players will be randomly paired up to compete against one another and each player will be given five balls. Player that hits the crossbar the most after 5 strikes advances. If the game is still tied, then they go to sudden death. Michel vs Diego Valeri would be bags of fun.

Hit the Coach

I took this silly one from my youth soccer coaching days. You pair every MLS team together, but rather than have players participate, you select fans from both sides and each club's coach is also involved. This one would actually be great for kids to participate in and would be massively entertaining for a particular coach in the Upper Northwest to be involved in.

You have the fans of one team make 2 parallel lines from the halfway line to the touchline, spaced about 5-8 yards apart. Then you have the coach of the opposing team, make a made run through the fans and tries to avoid getting hit by the soccer ball. The fans will "shoot" the ball (below the waist) and well, if you haven't figured it out yet, just imagine Sigi doing this and how much money you'd pay to see him get pelted by soccer balls.

Soccer Tennis

Every team sends two players to participate. Random draw, play first to eleven. In theory, it'll look a bit like this:

but I do hope that somehow how look more like this:

Bubble Soccer

I'm just gonna leave this here. You can figure out how amazing this could be.