The Major League Soccer All-Star Game is meant to be a celebration of the top players from the first-half of the season, in addition to being a chance for the league's best to compete against one of the best international clubs in the world.
But could it become an instrument in the race for the Supporters Shield, too?
Coach Jason Kreis said he would be "scratching his head about what to do" if RSL's Javier Morales and Jamison Olave wind up playing 90 minutes in the MLS All-Star Game against Manchester United in Houston next week, because RSL has a league game against D.C. United three days later that it cannot afford to lose while it pursues the Los Angeles Galaxy for the best record in the league.
And guess who will decide whether Morales and Olave play the whole game.
None other than Galaxy coach Bruce Arena, who's coaching the MLS All-Stars and whose own all-stars are not likely to get much run against the Reds after playing a CONCACAF Champions League game for the Galaxy the night before the All-Star Game.
Allowing rival players to run ragged in the heat and humidity in an attempt to wear them down and weaken their club team certainly would be a fascinating strategy to gain an edge, and perhaps would set a standard for ruthlessness. But Arena is not exactly known as an old softie, nor do he and Kreis enjoy the tenderest of relationships.
In other words, you never know.
The Galaxy already own a nine-point lead on RSL atop the MLS Western Conference standings (though RSL has a game in hand), which might already be enough for them to survive at the top until the end of the season. But if RSL were to drop three points at home to the worst team in the league because two of its best players were gassed?
That might just prove to be the result that settles it.
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