Canadian content saved for the All-Star reserve squad

Eric Hassli

For Canadian soccer fans, Wednesday’s All-Star Game is a non-event. There are no Canadian players in the game, no members of the only Canadian club eligible to send players — the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Toronto FC is playing a CONCACAF Champions League preliminary round match against Real Esteli on the same night that the All-Stars face Manchester United at Red Bull Arena.

If only one of the two players named to the All-Stars reserves on Monday would have been named to the proper squad, there could have been a glimmer of hope for MLS supporters north of the border.

D.C. United’s Dwayne De Rosario and Vancouver Whitecap Eric Hassli were both named to all-star taxi squad.

By order of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, MLS must name 32 all-stars every season. For the 32 players, it helps them when it comes time to negotiate new deals.

The final few are named on the Monday before the ASG, and aren’t eligible to play. The fans, commissioner Don Garber and coach Hans Backe have already made their selections.

De Rosario, an all-star for the sixth time, and Hassli, with eight goals this year, were on the list. As well, the list gives the opportunity for others who can’t play because of CONCACAF Champions League commitments — like Seattle’s Osvaldo Alonso — a chance to be considered all-stars.

But, in the case of DeRo and/or Hassli, MLS could have made some political headway by ensuring that one or both would have played in the game — a commissioner’s selection for one or the other would have been appropriate.

MLS has a problem; two of its most lucrative, supportive markets are in Canada, yet the league has ensured that there is no Canadian content in the game — nothing to make any viewer want to watch the All-Star Game on a night when one of the Canadian clubs is playing in the CCL.

Yes, MLS prides itself on the competitive nature of its All-Star Game. Or so it claims. If that was the honest truth, the league would let the coach pick the entire playing roster — and have no picks from the commissioner or the the fans.

All-star games of every ilk all have some sort of PR sheen. But this year’s game is clearly for the U.S. market only.

So, congrats to DeRo and the Whitecaps’ French assassin. Wish you were there.

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About Steven Sandor

I'm currently the colour commentator for FC Edmonton broadcasts on Sportsnet, NASL.com and TEAM 1260. I've covered the Toronto FC beat for four years, worked for the Edmonton Aviators of the USL for a season, covered the Edmonton Drillers of the NPSL and started covering Canadian World Cup qualifiers in 1996. I've covered the CONCACAF Champions League and the U-20 World Cup. I'm passionate about soccer in North America.