MLS

Jack Mac was snubbed, here’s how to fix it

Photo courtesy of MLS

When you sit down to write a piece about the concept, process, or meaning of something like an “All-Star Game,” chances are great that you’re about to rehash points that other people have made in the past (perhaps even yourself). Every major American sports league has one of these exhibitions, and each lends itself to nuances that make over-analysis unique. But there are many similarities that have been written about ad nauseum over the years. In other words, you read one, you read them all—to an extent.

What are some of these common themes? Let’s see:

  • The wrong guys got selected.
  • The biggest, most popular teams were overrepresented (usually some of those “wrong guys”).
  • Even though the wrong guys got selected, this is about “stars” so even the stars have off-years.
  • It’s about the fans.
  • The game is meaningless.
  • Someone is bound to get injured.
  • The best players don’t always want to play in it (not often in MLS though).
  • The rich history of the game is its most endearing quality.
  • There is no history, and thus it should cease to exist.

I’m sure I missed some, and if you’d like to point them out, the comments section below is a wonderful place to laugh at my oversight.

Still, many of these themes can be applied to the MLS All-Star Game, so take that listing as a “whatever floats your boat” list as a fan. Some will agree, some will disagree. But to some extent, every MLS follower has thought at least one of those points about the All-Star Game. It’s the nature of the beast.

Jack Mac was snubbed

For the MLS All-Star Game, the wrong guys did get selected.

But let’s be frank here, the Fan XI (including the preposterous competition using FIFA 13 to select Marco DiVaio) is not a bad thing. Let the fans have their say, and nobody is going to argue that those selections aren’t fan favorites, even if the process has the whiff of a popularity contest.

For Union fans, that thought came on Monday when MLS released the “Gameday Roster.” This was the Fan XI, plus seven players selected by head coach Peter Vermes and two by league commissioner Don Garber.

None of them were named Jack McInerney.

Not to sound like a homer, but Jack McInerney was for all intents and purposes MLS’s Player of the Entire Spring after winning POTM awards in April & May. For him to be snubbed was a travesty.

There are some mitigating reasons why McInerney was not selected. One relates to the Fan XI selection—the XI was released as a 3-4-3 formation, with Thierry Henry, Chris Wondolowski, and Di Vaio at forward. With Jack Mac on international duty with the Gold Cup squad, Camilo has been latching onto the goal scoring lead. Camilo in. Robbie Keane in. Jack McInerney out.

Poor planning led to the snub

Such a snub is the product of poor planning on the part of Major League Soccer. All it would take is a simple switch in the order of events to abate some of these issues.

Closer to the time of the game, there will be another list that will be published called the “Inactive Roster.” Simply put, Monday’s announcement should have included the entire roster pool: the Fan XI, Coach’s Picks, Commissioner’s Picks, and Inactive Roster.

Since MLS plays a foreign opponent, rather than an intra-league match-up of East vs. West, there is only one squad of MLS players. Compared to other sports, that means half the number of players get the honor of featuring in the All-Star Game. Taking the NBA as an example, even if Kobe Bryant has an off year, he’s going to be chosen based on his clout. But with so many places available within the roster, those reputation-based picks aren’t as irritating.

The just announced MLS roster has a few of these reputation-based choices. Chris Wondolowski is one. Thierry Henry is another. That’s fine—if you release the entire list of 30-32 players (which is about two squads worth of players, comparable to All-Star Games in other sports).

Think of it this way: When US Soccer releases its list for the USMNT camps, it’s generally 25-30 players long. Only on matchday do we learn who will take the field. MLS should adopt this with the All-Star Game, to help give recognition to most of who deserve the accolades.

Releasing the Fan XI early is a special honor, but Monday’s “Gameday Roster” is based on personal preferences of two men, a coach and the Commissioner. Rather than announcing an entire “All-Star Team”that incorporates player, media, and fan voting alike,” fans get a list that is incomplete and snubs a number of deserving players as well as fan bases.

Additionally, there’s a chance that some of the Fan XI or other Gameday Roster players will be unavailable when the All-Star Game is actually played. For example, Jurgen Klinsmann could call up guys like Graham Zusi or Omar Gonzalez for the knockout stages of the Gold Cup. Why would you release a Gameday Roster before knowing if all of the players are available?

It’s all just bass-ackwards.

Make it better

Deserving players will always somehow be left off all-star teams. That doesn’t change the fact that the way the league is going about its All-Star roster announcements is flawed.

Some will question why it’s even worth getting outraged about a game like this. That’s understandable. But as a means of rewarding players, shouldn’t the league be doing its best to highlight players’ achievements well?

The pageantry and importance of bringing in a foreign club to put fannies in the seats and faces in front of televisions is understandable. After you get over a player’s snub, you realize the show must still go on.

But it’s unfortunate that the league has chosen to back-burner one of the top reasons you have an All-Star Game—to recognize those who have had outstanding years.

Camilo and Marco got theirs. Jack will just have to wait.

15 Comments

  1. Because the MLS is a stupid league and in an attempt to add American ideas to it, it adopted one of the worst American sports systems (fan voting for all star games)

  2. I am so annoyed at this that I am boycotting this year’s All-star game.

  3. Wondering if it’s also time to bring back the East-West setup rather than the league-degrading “our best players play against a single out-of-form European powerhouse.”

    How many fringe fans are being attracted to the current format? Does it counter the amount of fans who scoff at the discrepancy in level of play it illustrates?

  4. Should be an East vs. West game. What is the big deal playing AC Roma?! How many supporters do they have here?!

    • Roma’s new owners are American and have been trying to gain support from American fans ever since they took over. That’s why they were so interested in participating in the All-Star game.
      ….and it’s AS not AC 🙂

  5. Union Jack says:

    I agree it should be East vs. West. All MLS, instead of playing the B team of some Euro club. I probably wouldn’t watch it even if Jack Mac was on the team.

  6. I went last year because it was at PPL. I will not watch this year because there is no Union representation. I have always thought All Star games were a bit like Valentine’s Day – a contrived idea to make money.

  7. Dan Walsh says:

    MLs vs. Mexico all-stars. Should happen every year.

  8. The FIFA 13 contest was a terrible idea. Even if Di Vaio had 1 goal on the season, he was most likely going to win considering he was a) the highest rated MLS forward and b) had good pace stats. It’s no surprise him and Keane were 1-2 in that contest.
    .
    Poor 62 rated Jack Mac didn’t even have a chance.

  9. MagicSpray says:

    After experiencing Chelsea versus MLS All-Stars at PPL Park, I could never argue for the old East-West format where no defense would be played and nobody cares about the outcome. With the possible exception of the MLB All-Star game, MLS has the best all star game in sports – one that somewhat resembles a “normal”, competitive match(can’t say that about NFL, NHL, or NBA).

  10. This is simply a popularity content, and Jack Mack is still relatively unknown outside of our hometown. If he strings 2 or 3 great seasons together, that will change.

    • Earl Reed says:

      It’s not simply a popularity contest. The Fan XI is, that is true. But what was released included Coach and Commissioner selections. If I had to make a guess (and maybe I shouldn’t), I don’t get that Philadelphia is a team that Peter Vermes likes. It was no surprise to me that he overlooked McInerney. In addition, we all know the world would implode if there were fewer than two Galaxy players on an All Star squad.

  11. The Chopper says:

    It is time to do away with the International format and return to an All MLS format. Either east vs west or US players versus non US players. Either way there are enough clubs, rivalries and fans to keep it an all MLS event.

    This format does not bring new fans to the table and does not reward existing fans. Like so many on the field calls in MLS, it makes no sense.

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