Home England Manchester United… or the CONCACAF Champions League? You decide!

Manchester United… or the CONCACAF Champions League? You decide!


MLS confirmed that Manchester United, which thrashed the MLS All-Stars last season, will be back for more.

Manchester United will provide the opposition for the All-Stars July 27 at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey, a year after the Red Devils dominated the best in MLS in Houston.

But, will the game resonate with Canadian fans? That’s up for debate. The CONCACAF Champions League’s first leg of qualifiers is scheduled to be played July 26-28. Not only are FC Dallas and the Seattle Sounders scheduled to be playing in that three-day window, so is the winner of the Nutrilite Canadian Championship. Betting people would place the two MLS clubs — Vancouver and Toronto FC — as the favourites.

Previously, MLS commissioner Don Garber pledged that all players selected to appear in the All-Star Game would be available for selection. But MLS has been tight-lipped on whether or not that means that they will work with CONCACAF to ensure its clubs play either on the 26th or 28th, or if it will make sure that no players from FC Dallas, the Sounders or an MLS-based Canadian champ would be on the ballot.

Last season, Toronto FC and the Los Angeles Galaxy played a night before the All-Star Game, and some of their players made two appearances in two nights. TFC’s Dwayne De Rosario came on as a late sub and scored, much to the displeasure of his then-coach, Preki, who openly hoped that De Rosario wouldn’t see the pitch in Houston.

And that’s the issue. Even if MLS clubs don’t play on the 27th, players will be put in a position where they could play two games in two nights. And that surely won’t please the coaches.

And, in Canada, where the CCL has more currency than in the United States, TSN could find it has an issue if its presentation of the All-Star Game has to go head-to-head with the Whitecaps or Toronto FC playing in a match that means something. After all, which would you watch? Manchester United played Celtic last season in Toronto the same night as TFC travelled to Honduras to face Motagua in the CCL. How many TFC fans decided not to go to the friendly because they wanted to head down to their favourite Liberty Village pubs and watch TFC play?

Real Salt Lake’s impressive run in the CCL, holding a 2-0 lead over Saprissa after the first leg of the semifinal, has turned more fans north of Mexico onto the competition.

If Seattle is at home against the All-Star Game, we know that the league loses its most fervent viewership base to the CCL.

As for United, training in the United States is becoming an automatic. Last season, when the club crossed the border to play a friendly against Celtic at Toronto’s Rogers Centre, manager Sir Alex Ferguson and midfielder Darren Fletcher spoke about how the heat and humidity offered by summer training in North America help the club’s players improve their fitness levels for the long season ahead. The logic is sound.

“We’re delighted to have been invited to play the MLS All-Star Game for the second year running,” said Ferguson in a release issued by the league. “Last year’s game was a special occasion in front of a noisy, passionate crowd. Obviously we’ll be looking to repeat the performance and the scoreline, but it will be a great spectacle for everyone involved.”

Ferguson will be in New York Tuesday for a press conference, along with New York striker Thierry Henry. Surely, some old Arsenal-Manchester United war stories will be swapped.

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