24 July 2008

Attention America: Want to Put on a Real All-Star Game? Look to Australia

America loves All-Stars. For whatever reason, we are infatuated with this idea of a group of best of the best. I’ve suggested in the past that America needs to just drop the “All-Star” game for soccer altogether. Why? Because it’s a holdover from the other main stream sports, is basically a strange concoction of players, and besides all that, we already have an All-Star team – it’s called the US National Team.

But I’ve been thinking as I’m prone to do on rare occasions. If we as Americans insist on watching a group of "club All-Stars" as well as a group of "country All- Stars", then let's do it right!

I’d like to see the US implement a “State of Origin” style tournament. The State of Origin is Australia’s premier Rugby League championship. It is an All-Star game to end All-Star games. The State of Origin pits the best players from two states, New South Wales and Queensland, against each other. It is a blood match (set of three matches actually) for bragging rights that electrifies Australia and Rugby League fans across the world. Players are eligible to play for their “state of origin” literally based on the state where they played their first senior rugby.

I would love to see a similar format for Soccer in the US.

Imagine carving the US in to four big sections. I don’t think pure quadrants would work, but I could imagine the competitors in the US Origin All-Star match representing: North vs. South vs. Mid-West vs. West Coast. Each team composed of all star players from the various states that make up each section and open to all Internationals, MLS, USL Div 1 & 2, PDL, etc.

Oh you see where this is going? The South flying some racially tolerant variant of "stars & bars" vs. the Carpet Baggers from the North (sorry guys). The Mid-West with all of its soccer history in St. Louis vs. the soccer surfers from the West Coast. Could be catastrophic or outstanding - but I think there's no way around it, it would be immensely entertaining!

Now that’s an All-Star series I could get behind! Who’s with me?

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