NEW YORK – MLS Commissioner Don Garber said Tuesday that the league has learned from its past mistakes and will make a stronger effort this season to ensure all MLS players voted to the MLS All-Star Game can compete in the summer showcase.
MLS announced that the 2011 AT&T MLS All-Star Game will be held on July 27 at Red Bull Arena, with an opponent to be announced sometime within the next 30 days.
This year’s match comes on the heels of perhaps the league’s most successful All-Star match to date, when more than 70,000 fans flocked to Reliant Stadium in Houston to watch the MLS All-Stars suit up against Manchester United.
Unfortunately for the MLS side, however, more than a few players were hampered by a taxing and crowded schedule that overlapped with the All-Star Game. No Seattle Sounders players appeared in the match due to a CONCACAF Champions League match the same night, while the LA Galaxy played on the road against the Puerto Rico Islanders the night before the All-Star Game and were forced to make a quick turnaround to arrive in Houston.
Galaxy coach Bruce Arena – who doubled as the MLS All-Star team coach – was forced to relinquish his coaching duties to All-Star assistant and Houston head coach Dominic Kinnear during the lead up to the All-Star game while he was with the Galaxy.
“We’re going to try and do everything we can to ensure that every player that’s picked will be able to play in the game,” Garber said Tuesday on a media conference call. “We have learned a little bit of the lessons from the past, and our goal is to ensure we have full participation.”
The Seattle Sounders and FC Dallas will compete in the summer’s CCL qualifying round, while Toronto FC or the Vancouver Whitecaps could compete in the stage as well if they qualify by winning the Nutrilite Canadian Championship.
That means that big names like reigning MVP and FC Dallas playmaker David Ferreira, Sounders scoring phenom Fredy Montero, Whitecaps defender Jay DeMerit or Toronto FC mainstay Dwayne De Rosario could face some scheduling issues if they’re voted onto the MLS roster.
“It’s fair to say that our goal is to be able to avoid the issue,” Garber said. “The goal is to avoid the problem.”