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Friday, July 9, 2010

Thoughts on the MLS All Star Game

BOSTON, MA - Thursday, July 8, 2010 – The 2010 Major League Lacrosse (MLL)All-Star Game capped off a patriotic week in Boston, MA featuring the MLL All-Stars vs. the US Men’s National Team. The second All Star game of its kind in MLL History was seen by a Harvard Stadium professional lacrosse record crowd of 11,771. Team USA defeated the MLL All-Stars 13-12 in a closely contest battle that proved the exhibition is not taken lightly by the best players lacrosse has to offer. Denver’s Brendan Mundorff, playing for Team USA, was named Bud Light MVP for his 6 goal performance.Click here for the full article

I read that this morning and thought it did a fair job of summarizing the game. All in all it was a pretty entertaining game - as far as All Star games go that is. There were several lead changes and big comebacks throughout and the defense was much harder than the scoreline. The face offs were fairly epic. No one can question Alex Smith's ability. Ryan Powell -the only Powell brother still active in Major League Lacrosse and the only one named to Team USA - looked as strong as ever.

The skills competition was great, as usual. Crotty is a pure sniper and demonstrated why overhand shots are generally the best to take. All six of his two pointers were shot overhand. In fact, every ball that went in throughout the accuracy challenge were overhand shots. Not surprisingly, the side arm and 3/4 shots generally went extremely wide. I chuckled about this throughout as I explained to Tiff that we repeatedly emphasized this to the Valley boys over the last two seasons. It took everything I had not to text Bostwick with a "See what we mean now?" due to his preference for the 3/4 shot.

Paul Rabil's 111 mph shot is still impressive, but there is no way he hits that number during a game. The 20 yard run up with no defense is a huge contributor, but the freedom of movement without pads and a helmet probably help a lot too. Still, it is pretty awesome to watch. Oh, and what type of shot is that Mr. Rabil? Overhand you say? Why? Oh yeah, because the ball has to go in the net to count in the speed competition.

As far as the game goes, the MLL All Stars looked good, really good. They knew what they were doing and played like they gave a damn. It's almost as if a few of them (Schwartman, Danowski) felt they had something to prove. As both men were slighted by Pressler (Danowski is one of the best attackmen of all time - and I'm a Duke hater), I suspect that is precisely what was going on.
On top of that, Stephen Berger seemed to come out of nowhere to own the game, and later, Sportscenter.

Team USA's play was far from inspired. They were lazy, sloppy, and just about every adjective one could use to describe my play the other night. Hell, they way they were playing, a team of CILA All Stars could have taken Team USA to the house. And that worries the bejeezus out of me.

Rabil was ineffective (I'm not sure he even took a shot) as was most of the midfield. Despite his brilliant performance in the skills competition and the national team's previous games, Crotty was nearly useless. Without Mundorf's six goals, USA would have been embarrassed. And I still don't think Mundorf belongs on this team (he played for Australia in 2006). Thank god we have the best Powell on this roster (Mikey is all flash and no substance and Casey is old).

Considering that this game served as the final tune up before Team USA heads to Manchester next week, I guess we should be thankful that the national team won. But the victory seems empty, meaningless. Hopefully the boys will play better under international (aka traditional) rules. Maybe the shot clock and two point arc distracted them. It is possible that they can dig deep to their college days and remember how to play real lacrosse. Otherwise the Canadians, Iroquois, and maybe even the Aussies will be ready to pounce...

Tribe 7