MLS All-Star Game Draws Record Sporting Park Crowd As League Praises Host K.C.
Last night's AT&T MLS All-Star Game saw a Sporting Park-record crowd of 21,175 and "drew rave reviews" as fans, players and "even MLS commissioner Don Garber lauded Kansas City and the soccer celebration it hosted" (Tod Palmer, K.C. STAR, 8/1). In K.C., Murdock & Fitzgerald noted Sporting Park "erupted when Sporting Kansas City’s MLS All-Stars were introduced." Fans "began arriving hours early," and the festivities "spilled out of the stadium in every direction, from parking lots filled with tailgating to fans lining up at the park's gates." MLS Communications Dir Will Kuhns said that the event was the "biggest all-star game the league has had" (K.C. STAR, 8/1). The AP's Dave Skretta noted the MLS All-Star team prior to last night's 3-1 loss to Serie A club AS Roma "had been 7-2-1 against international opponents since the league adopted the current All-Star game format." Roma scored an early goal that "took much of the zip out of the home crowd, which had been feverishly waving flags and pounding drums" (AP, 7/31).
YOU'VE COME A LONG WAY, BABY: In K.C., Vahe Gregorian writes last night's game "didn’t just affirm that for one night, anyway, Kansas City was the 'soccer capital of the world,' as proclaimed on a downtown billboard." It also was the "latest affirmation" that soccer's "rising tide is no fluke, fad or mere niche." Sporting KC has "enjoyed an average announced crowd of 19,709 this season -- meaning 1,242 more than capacity." There is "no denying how soccer is bearing fruit" in the K.C. market. The area was "once a barren landscape for the game." But Garber has repeatedly said it is now is "one of the great sports stories in our industry" (K.C. STAR, 8/1). Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes emphasized that the "buzz around town, the wonderful facility, another night where a passionate and knowledgeable crowd made the ground a special place as metaphors for the game's progress locally and nationally" (NBCSPORTS.com, 8/1).
A FITTING FORMAT: SI.com's Brian Straus writes the MLS All-Star Game "remains the best in sports." There were "occasional calls during the week to return to the East-West intramural format the league used to use, but those are both shortsighted and misguided." It is "fitting that the NFL on Wednesday announced its plans to remodel the Pro Bowl after the NHL's All-Star game." The Pro Bowl's new "schoolyard selection might make for interesting TV for a year or two, but it won't change the product on the field." Both the NHL and NFL events will "remain half-hearted scrimmages that mean nothing." But the MLS All-Stars and Roma "each wanted to win," and the fans "had a genuine interest" (SI.com, 8/1).