For better or worse, there is no time of year when MLS has an better opportunity to showcase itself to the world than the All-Star Game. The annual event clearly lacks most of the prerequisites for a truly important match -- like the teams playing for anything other than pride or both teams having trained together for more than a few days -- but it's at least the kind of thing that has the potential to get some attention.
This year's game will be played against Chelsea, the reigning UEFA Champions League title holders. There's no question that Chelsea have the decided talent advantage, but they are still early in their preseason. It's not much of an opening, but that kind of rustiness could at least give MLS a chance at being competitive.
In last year's game, MLS went more with a lineup that seemed designed to get the biggest stars on the field. It flopped horribly, as they lost 4-0. While some of the biggest names deserve to be on the pitch regardless, here's the group I think has the best chance to keep it competitive (4-2-3-1):
GK: Dan Kennedy. If we're basing the decision on who has had the better statistical year, Jimmy Nielsen is the choice. But most would agree that Kennedy is the better shot stopper, something that will be sorely needed in this game.
LB: Ramiro Corrales. Not the sexiest pick on the team, but Ben Olsen selected him for a reason. For one, he's the only true left back on the squad. But he's also managed to remain relevant in a league that has changed immensely during his 17 years. He won't be the most talented player, but he could help in other ways.
CB: Aurilien Collin. This shouldn't be a huge surprise. Since coming into the league as a virtual unknown last year, he's been among the best players at his position and a major reason Sporting KC has been so good.
CB: Jay DeMerit. Has started to look like the player that was starting for a EPL team a couple years ago. Should know how to deal with these guys.
RB: Carlos Valdes. Not really a right back, but I think the All-Stars are going to want to keep it very tight in the back. Valdes will basically be asked to stay at home and play physical, something he does as good as almost anyone.
DCM: Osvaldo Alonso. One of the few players on this roster who could move to the EPL and stand a chance of being a competent starter right now. Will be an interesting chance to see if that assumption is remotely true.
DCM: Kyle Beckerman. Like Alonso, provides some solid playmaking ability from deeper in the field. The similarly skilled duo will also be able to provide cover for one another as they join the attack when possible.
LM: Landon Donovan. Maybe not an ideal spot for him, but someplace Donovan has shown he can play at a high level. As there really isn't a pure left mid on the roster, this is nice cover and should give him a chance to do a lot of cutting in.
CM: Graham Zusi. Has really developed into a playmaker over the past two years. He'll probably be sitting a little deeper than you'd normally see in a 4-2-3-1 set up, but the outside mids will make that a moot point.
RM: Dwayne DeRosario. There's going to be a lot of switching up and cutting in on both wings. De Rosario maybe better suited in the middle, but this shouldn't be much of a stretch.
F: Thierry Henry. Obviously, if it's about who's having the best year, Chris Wondolowski is the obvious choice. It's just so hard to argue against Henry, though, as the guy most capable of scoring a goal or two against Chelsea.