The soccer news starts with a flashback to 2001 when goalie wars and soccer tennis were last part of the All-Star Game festivities. Who didn't want to see Chicago Fire goalkeeper Zack Thornton firing a shot at San Jose goalkeeper Joe Cannon who immediately responded in kind? Or players used to soccer tennis as a training exercise going all in on a Friday night at Spartan Stadium in front of the ESPN cameras?
Apparently, the decision makers at MLS who brought a swift end to the skills challenge. It was an odd choice at the time considering how popular those All-Star events are in other North American pro sports. Now, all these years later, the skills challenge is back.
On Tuesday night, MLS will debut a new version of the skills challenge. Does it involve social media, streaming, and a limited number of attacking players from the All-Stars, Atletico Madrid, and Orlando? It does. Does it sound like as much fun as the version the league last used back in 2001? It does not.
This time around MLS is looking for displays of shooting accuracy, the ever popular touch and volley, and passing. Wayne Rooney, Carlos Vela, and Jonathan dos Santos represent the All-Stars. Nani, Chris Mueller, and Sebastian Mendez are the hometown heroes for Orlando City. Atletico Madrid is putting up Koke, Joao Felix, and Hector Herrera. The winning team gets $25k to contribute to the charity of their choice.
Regardless of the concept, it's a shame MLS waited so long to revive the skills competition. There's no ridiculous moments, general goofiness, and surprising displays of skills to remember. It's a fresh start because MLS didn't bother for so long. Part of that is undoubtedly due to the disappointing ratings back in 2001 when television was still the only realistic distribution channel. It's been a long time since streaming was a new idea, and it's worth wondering why now is the moment for the skills challenge revival.
Maybe this is the start of something unique for the league to build on. A fun event that people look forward to as part of the All-Star festivities. Then again, so was what the league did in 1998 in Orlando and 2001 in San Jose that ended up going nowhere.
Also in the soccer news, WCPO's Dan Monk reports on how much FC Cincinnati's stadium project will cost taxpayers. Bundesliga.com profiles USMNT youth international and Borussia Dortmund player Gio Reyna.
The Daily Mail's Adam Shergold has former Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho talking about a return to coaching. AS's Conrado Valle talks to Jasper Cillessen about his time as the backup goalkeeper at Barcelona.
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Graphic courtesy of MLS