Real Salt Lake: Kreis, players not thrilled about MLS All-Star Game
Sandy • As barnstorming events go, All-Star games, such as Wednesday's Major League Soccer extravaganza in Philadelphia, were invented with the fans in mind.
They want to see the best together, the David Beckhams, Landon Donovans and Kyle Beckermans of the world on one field.
Players, naturally, have a different attitude entirely. This is especially true as it impacts Real Salt Lake and the status of its captain Kyle Beckerman for Friday's league against visiting Vancouver.
While soccer fans will certainly find something to enjoy about the MLS All-Stars taking on UEFA Champions League winner Chelsea FC at PPL Park in Philadelphia at 6:30 p.m. (MDT) on ESPN2, RSL can't help but fear the potential wear on Beckerman.
After all, Beckerman's playing time Wednesday will determine how much he will be used in Friday's crucial Western Conference match at Rio Tinto Stadium. Real (12-7-3) can inch closer to conference leader San Jose, while Vancouver (9-6-7) has playoff hopes of its own.
The Whitecaps are threatening in third place.
"[The All-Star game] just doesn't mean much to me, to be very honest," RSL coach Jason Kreis said. "It's all about our team and not individual players."
Kreis is more concerned with Beckerman's 41/2-hour flight from Philadelphia to Salt Lake City on Thursday, then more air time during the turnaround from Friday to Tuesday's Champions League game at Costa Rica.
Even with a charter flight to Costa Rica and a date against Herediano, too many hours in a plane is not good for the legs.
"A couple of weeks ago, we looked at it and said, 'Is it really a good thing for our players to be going?' " said Kreis, who favors an idea of players receiving a break if they face league games directly on the heels of the All-Star fest. They'd still receive the bonus for playing, but would not be part of the active squad. "Something like that would have been good to consider. But I also know it's an important event for the league."
This will be Beckerman's second consecutive MLS All-Star Game appearance and third overall. MLS has lost its last three All-Star games to English-based clubs, though the league did defeat Chelsea in 2006.
And as much as RSL players would rather have Beckerman with them, they support their captain and have a few complaints about the lack of Real players involved.
So, it is a two-sided argument.
"Yes and no," Will Johnson said. "I know we have a group of guys who buy into this team being good. It's going to benefit us that we don't have five guys [in Philadelphia]. All-Star stuff is political. We're happy for Kyle. We're proud of him being there and we'll leave it at that.
"[The travel] does Kyle no favors, for sure."
MLS All-Star roster vs. Chelsea FC
Goalkeepers • Dan Kennedy (Chivas USA), Jimmy Nielsen (Sporting Kansas City)
Defenders • Steven Beitashour (San Jose Earthquakes), Aurelien Collin (Sporting Kansas City), Ramiro Corrales (San Jose Earthquakes), Jay DeMerit (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Justin Morrow (San Jose Earthquakes), Heath Pearce (New York Red Bulls), Carlos Valdes (Philadelphia Union)
Midfielders • Osvaldo Alonso (Seattle Sounders FC), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), David Beckham (LA Galaxy), Dwayne De Rosario (D.C. United), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
Forwards • Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders FC), Chris Pontius (D.C. United), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)