There have been so many obvious cash-grabs perpetuated by the Liga MX and MLS via their new partnership.
There’s the very confusing Leagues Cup, the unnecessary Campeones Cup and the weird proposal of a North American “super” league in the future. While those ideas were either hackneyed or impractical, MLS commissioner Don Garber and Liga MX president Enrique Bonilla came together on Nov. 20 to announce another idea:
An MLS All-Star Game in 2020 that pits the annual MLS All-Star team against a team made up of Liga MX All-Stars. The game is part of the celebration of MLS’ 25th anniversary next year.
“It’s going to be incredible. I want to play in it,” USMNT legend and former Club Leon forward Landon Donovan said. “The hope is that you get lots of different players from lots of different teams so that most teams in Major League Soccer and Liga MX are represented.”
This idea is not only not bad; it is great! It’s actually a surprise how great it is, considering where it’s coming from. But finally, this FIFA video game-style dream match will take place in July 2020 at the new Banc of California stadium in Los Angeles, home of Carlos Vela’s LAFC.
Why it’s so cool and how it will work:
Here’s how the Liga MX All-Star team will be built, according to Bonilla:
Enrique Bonilla to @tudnmx — Liga MX All-Star team likely to be made up of the 2 players in each category of the end-of-season “Balon de Oro” awards (12 players). The 2 coaches nominated will name 20, of which fans will vote for their favorites to reduce it to 10 = squad of 22— Tom Marshall (@mexicoworldcup) November 21, 2019
It’s not exactly the best way, but it does incorporate opinion from league officials (they nominate Balon de Oro hopefuls), fans and coaches.
As a reminder, MLS gets its All-Star team through a combination of fan voting and selections by the appointed manager and league commissioner.
Like I stated earlier, Liga MX has been under some criticism over its decisions on the direction of the league. The decision to stop participating in the prestigious Copa Libertadores angered many fans, as well as the choice to constantly insert themselves into quick cash-grab scenarios in the United States—like the ones mentioned above—taking advantage of the numerous and overzealous Mexican population in the U.S.
This changes things. It’s actually an idea that excites even the most dedicated haters of MLS-Liga MX relations.
The MLS All-Star game (and all-star games in general) have been a fabric of MLS and American sports for decades. It’s been around in MLS for as long as the league has been, but, while Legend games are popular in the country, Mexico has never had a team made up of the best players from the league take the pitch in any capacity.
Instead, fans had to settle for FIFA Ultimate Team and the annual Balon de Oro awards given out to the best Liga MX players in certain positions.
Unlike other attempts, this game actually has the ability to enhance the rivalry between both leagues in a natural—not forced—manner. Both commissioners have already expressed their confidence in their own league taking the win next summer, and this All-Star game is a better way for MLS to finally get a win over Liga MX and liven up the All-Star experience.
It won’t be easy. Liga MX still draws better star power currently than their American counterparts, but it’s a better chance for MLS to get a win here than in the CONCACAF Champions League or Leagues Cup, where matchups almost always lean in favor of the Mexican sides.
MLS used to play an NBA, MLB and NFL style of all-star game that pits one conference against the other, but since 2005, MLS has invited European teams to face its all-stars. Was it good? Sure, but not for winning.
Since the match comes during preseason for European clubs, many teams used alternate lineups and played academy prospects, lessening the impact of the game. After 14 editions with this format, MLS only managed to win half of them (and none in the past four editions), but now they’ll have a more balanced matchup against Liga MX.
What else should they incorporate?
As part of the MLS All-Star Game celebrations, the American league also holds a Homegrown game with a roster made up of the best young players in the league that came up through MLS academies.
Out of six total editions, five of them have pitted the MLS Homegrown team against a Mexican side. Club America, Tigres and Chivas U-20s have all participated as well as the Mexican National U-20 team.
The formula is already there, so the next step is to pit the MLS homegrowns against a team of the best players from Liga MX U-20 academies. Preference should be given to players who regularly participate in the U-20 league and the entire team can even be picked out by the league since not many fans will have adequate knowledge in this area.
This would make the Homegrown game that much more entertaining, in my opinion. It’ll mirror that of the NBA’s USA vs. World game made up of rookies and sophomores and add great storylines to the careers of youth players who eventually become all-stars.
An all-star game between Liga MX Femenil and the NWSL is also another must, and a possibility in the future as the two-year-old women’s league in Mexico grows more.
I got a chance to ask Enrique Bonilla about the #LigaMXFemEng Liguilla taking place right now and whether or not a possible inter-league all-star game for the women’s side could happen in the future. pic.twitter.com/ItfppUnazF— Amelia Lopez (@AztecaAmeliaaa) November 20, 2019
Also, please bring back the old hockey-style MLS penalty shootouts. Not for the game, but as an event itself. Stay with me here, Liga MX fans. It may look weird at first, but it’s too cool to not bring back.
Alright, now to the good stuff. What would the Liga MX team look like right now.
This is one man’s opinion, so feel free to disagree, but here are my picks for the Liga MX All-Star team if the game was happening now.
GK: Guillermo Ochoa (Club America)
RB: Alan Mozo (Pumas UNAM)
CB: Pablo Aguilar (Cruz Azul)
CB: Nicolas Sanchez (Monterrey)
LB: Jesus Escoboza (Queretaro)
CDM: Guido Rodriguez (Club America)
CDM: Guido Pizarro (Tigres)
LM: Rodolfo Pizarro (Monterrey)
RM: Brian Lozano (Santos Laguna)
ST: Mauro Quiroga (Necaxa)
ST: Andre-Pierre Gignac (Tigres)
GK: Nahuel Guzman (Tigres)
RB: Luis Rodriguez (Tigres)
CB: Carlos Salcedo (Tigres)
CB: William Tesillo (Club Leon)
LB: Bryan Angulo (Puebla)
CM: Edwin Cardona (Pachuca)
CAM: Victor Guzman (Pachuca)
LM: Angel Mena (Club Leon)
RM: Jonathan Rodriguez (Cruz Azul)
ST: Julio Furch (Santos Laguna)
ST: Jose Juan Macias (Club Leon)
shameless plug: check out the latest episode of the FMFSOM Podcast where we rank the Top 5 players in Liga MX by position.
You can follow Antonio on Twitter @antonio1998__