Come All-Star time, Toronto may be awash with claret & blue...and it almost certainly won't be due to an influx of Rapids supporters. A little birdy from ESPN named Kristian Dyer tells me that MLS is close to announcing that the opponent for the 2008 MLS All Star Game will be English Premier League club West Ham. How do you say "Cockney hell" in Canadian?
A source within the league who wished not to be identified confirmed to Dyer that the Hammers will be the third English club to participate in the mid-summer match. After the two previous EPL victims -Fulham in 2005 and Chelsea in 2006- fell at the feet of the MLS best XI, 2007 was spent spanking Celtic. Also of note is that this year's event will be the first All-Star game held outside the United States.
Now, our guy also tells me that Liverpool was on the radar but the club's recent bout of bad, uneven play -and subsequent uncertain status in the league standings- led to unease within the league office concerning their availability; word is that Liverpool wanted to commit after the EPL season had concluded but this would compromise the league's ability to adequately promote the game. So MLS said no and made a call to East London.
West Ham, although less of a marquee of a team then some of the recent guest clubs to participate in the event, does feature a number of international players who are better than you; Swedish international Freddie Ljungberg, English midfielder Kieron Dyer, Peruvian standout winger Nolberto Solano, Portuguese international Luis Boa Morte and versatile American defender Jonathan Spector and are all on the payroll. So keep an eye out (and a credit card handy) for confirmation on the deal over the next two weeks.
Are you down with West Ham as an opponent? Who do you think the All-Star's should play? Let it be known in the comments.