Nevertheless, outcome aside (which admittedly is a pretty big aside), this week was a pretty good showcase for the MLS. The league's All-Stars went toe-to-toe with one of the world's best clubs, played competitively and close for much of the match, and did it in front of a sold-out Big Apple crowd while an international audience tuned in. Not too bad.
There's no question the league's development and growth are not happening fast enough for true-blue MLS fans. There's also little question, however, that the development and growth are taking place just the same.
One of the overlooked ways the league has matured is off the field altogether: it's the way the MLS is making an impact through charitable service.
Launched just four years ago, MLS W.O.R.K.S. is the platform used by the league and its clubs to conduct community outreach and "address important social issues affecting young people." Through the initiative, MLS partners with a host of leading charitable organizations to offer programs that are making a difference in the fight against cancer, the effort to promote volunteer service, and the movements to ensure a cleaner environment and healthier lifestyles.
Thanks in no small part to MLS W.O.R.K.S., the league is also leaving an All-Star community service footprint in New York and New Jersey that will be felt for some time. Chief among the lasting legacies is a new pool pavilion in NYC's Washington Heights neighborhood that will provide services to more than 100,000 community members. The project will also ensure that sports and fitness programs will be available year-round to some 20,000 area children.
My guess is the beneficiaries of the league's charitable work this week would agree - the 2011 version of the MLS All-Star Game was not too bad indeed.