As we speak, roving gangs of West Ham fans and black-clad TFC fans protesting whatever it was are turning Toronto into Melbourne ca. "Beyond Thunderdome."* Which raises the questions, who (if anyone) should have been invited instead.
My default answer for All-Star Games is the US National Team, or better still this year the US Olympic Team. The problem was, this year's game had to be held abroad, so that Giorgio Chinaglia couldn't attend. And I doubt any US national team would have been a big attraction. The Canadian national team would have been an interesting substitute, except the CSA hates Beemoe Field. Canada's soccer team is boycotting the Olympics this year. And, not to be harsh, but the US ratings for MLS v. Canada would have been somewhere around test pattern levels.
East v. West is the very cheapest alternative...and I wonder why MLS didn't, rather than pay a modest fee for West Ham's presence. After all, the marketing of this game outside Toronto is "Beckham and Twenty-One Other All-Stars!" The number of people who are saying, "I wasn't gonna watch the All-Star Game, but dude, Craig Bellamy" could fit in a Camaro. The last few years of foreign guests have ended up pretty profitable, I suppose, so why mess with a good thing. It's not like we thought Wham, Bam, Thank You Ma'am United was going to do any damage...until the horrible events of today, as Torontooligans laid waste Canadian civilization.
So what about next year in the Sandbox? The fantasies revolve around Real Madrid, except we're bumping into the same thing we have in the past few years of cozy, cute little stadiums, to wit: why, when you can get someone much cheaper and still sell out the place? Given enough notice, you could charge much more money, but Real Madrid has a habit of bailing out of fixtures when it's convenient. If that happens again, MLS would be left with a lot of angry fans and a whole lot of money. On the other hand, there could be a downside. *rimshot*
If it isn't Real Sociedad as a last-minute substitute for Real Madrid, then they should get Rangers. See, Colorado hosted MLS-Celtic for their ASG, so for the sake of rivalry symmetry, they should...not listen to me.
*Is it technically a lie if I don't check to see whether it's actually true? I'm applying for an unpaid internship at MLS Rumors, and it's one of the essay questions.