A win is a win. Was the MLS All-Star game a warm-up for Chelsea? Sure. Are most All-Star matches in various sports more about exposure and less about intense play? Of course. Did the result mean anything significant? Probably not. But someone forgot to tell the MLS All-Stars and Peter Nowak. They played a tough match and put in a gritty performance in front of a decent sized (by US standards) crowd if 21,000+. And while this may not have mattered to Chelsea, they sure played like it did in the last 5 minutes of regulation when they turned up the tempo noticeably. Jeff Carlisle summed it up nicely on SoccerNet:
At the beginning of the match, the vast majority of fans seemed smitten with their English guests, cheering their every move. But with each tackle and each completed pass by the "home" team, the crowd was soon won over, to the point that chants of "USA! USA!" became more common than the roars of "Chelsea!" Given the blue-collar attitude displayed by the players, why not? This was the kind of performance that fans were hoping to see from the U.S. national team at the World Cup, but didn’t get. And as Saturday’s game progressed, the more the All-Stars battled, the more fans hitched along for the ride.
[emphasis mine] Reminds me of what I tell my U10 kids all the time. It doesn’t matter if we win or lose, it’s how we played the game. (bad cliche I know) If we gave our best effort on the pitch and still lose, that’s OK the wins will come. A ‘bad’ performance isn’t a loss, it’s a lackluster performance.
I think Aaron Gidding is a bit over the top saying this is the ‘Best Year in US Soccer‘. But change is afoot, you can feel it. The MLS All-Stars played hard and fought to win a ‘meaningless match’ against a renowned European team. That’s not meaningless. It speaks volumes.