In Philadelphia, Major League Soccer announced today that the Union and PPL Park would host the 2012 MLS All-Star Game.
Meanwhile in Seattle, Sounders FC majority owner Joe Roth said even bidding to host an All-Star Game wasn’t in the club’s plans in the near future.
“I think it helps the team that could use the help, though Philly is doing quite well,” Roth said. “I think that the fanbase here has shown us that they’d rather see us play in competition. We’re here for the fans, so I’d rather do it that way.”
The desires of the fans aren’t the only thing that has kept the All-Star Game out of the forefront in Seattle though. The club has had multiple players named to each of the All-Star Games since their inaugural season in 2009, but the 2009 match against Everton at Rio Tinto Stadium in Salt Lake City was the only one that didn’t conflict with CONCACAF Champions League matches for Seattle.
In 2009, Kasey Keller, Fredy Montero, Freddie Ljungberg and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado all made the squad. In 2010, Keller and Montero were both named to the team, but did not attend while the club played in the CCL. Last year Keller and Osvaldo Alonso earned the honors and Keller took a flight shortly after Seattle’s CCL match to be on hand for the match in his final MLS season while Alonso remained with the team.
This year, the July 25 exhibition would seemingly not conflict with anything on Seattle’s schedule.
The All-Star Game was one of many topics addressed by the Sounders FC owner while he was in town for quarterly meetings.
After watching the team train, Roth was impressed with the team’s depth, particularly in the midfield.
“We have the best midfield in the league, as it is, and there will be some real competition for those spots,” he said. “I think we’ve been more aggressive this year than the last three years. I was really happy with the moves we made.”
The improvements to the club come after they had their best season in three years, finishing second to the LA Galaxy in the regular season standings while also advancing to the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals and winning their third straight US Open Cup title.
The cloud of a third straight first round exit from the MLS Cup playoffs still hangs over the assessment of Seattle’s success to some. Roth, however, is not one of them.
“We get better, so it’s hard to complain. I don’t like the playoff system much – I never have,” he said. “I think we’ll have a good run this year.”
The rise in success and popularity for the Sounders FC is seen in other parts of the league too, to a certain degree, while the league has gained in visibility.
“Things are going well, really since Toronto came in,” Roth said. “It all feels like it’s going in the right direction.”
That didn’t keep Roth from expressing his discontent for some things around MLS.
“There are so many things I’d like to see done, but you don’t have enough tape in your recorder,” he said. “I would like to see the salary cap go up and I’d like to be able to keep a core group of players. Growing up in New York, players played an entire generation for the Yankees or Dodgers or the football Giants. I think that’s a missing component in today’s sports. You can’t keep track of where the players are going.”
Seattle alone had nine players leave the team via trade, free agency or transfer this off-season.