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Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard Call-Ups to MLS All-Star Game Are an Embarrassment

Peter Galindo@@GalindoPWFeatured ColumnistJuly 14, 2015

KIEV, UKRAINE - SEPTEMBER 09:  Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard of England look on during a training session at the Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2013 in Kiev, Ukraine.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images

Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard joined their Major League Soccer clubs this month, and neither player has played a single competitive minute for their respective teams.

Despite their inactivity, commissioner Don Garber added the former England internationals to the All-Star Game roster, per the official league website. This news is an absolute embarrassment for MLS.

Following the announcement, MLS players voiced their displeasure over Twitter, via Total-MLS.com.

It's clear what Garber's intentions were for adding the New York City FC and LA Galaxy stars. He wants more viewers to watch the All-Star Game on July 29. Most soccer fans know who Lampard and Gerrard are, so he must believe that if they play in this match, it will attract more attention.

Dan Dickinson @RetirementFC

For consideration over your morning coffee: 16 years of Commissioner's Picks to the MLS All Star Game. http://t.co/kUEbggIwQC

If Garber's sole purpose was to raise the awareness of the game and the league, he accomplished both tasks. However, this is bad publicity. This does not send a positive message to the players, fans or casual onlookers.

Louise #LoveManchester 🐝 @Jose_Knows_

@SkyFootball so they haven't played yet but are considered 'all stars' how shallow are the Yanks? 😳😳

If two marquee players can be added to the All-Star Game without playing in a single MLS match, it's a slap in the face to deserving candidates.

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Brooks Peck @BrooksDT

If MLS is going to put Gerrard and Lampard in All-Star squad, why not Messi and Ronaldo too? They've all played same number of MLS games.

Sebastian Giovinco wasn't voted into the game by the fans, but surely he'll be selected by head coach Pablo Mastroeni. However, others such as the Columbus Crew's Kei Kamara and Ethan Finlay will likely be snubbed, despite being the league's leading scorer and assists leader, respectively.

Kamara and Finlay should be on the roster, but if they aren't, it won't be because they're not good enough. It will be due to the market they play in and how popular they are compared to other All-Stars. That must affect their morale.

Anthony Precourt @APrecourt

Would have been nice to have seen some Crew SC players on the ASG roster. There is still a chance...I could name a few who belong! #crewsc

The Fan XI is full of U.S. internationals and big-name designated players. Supporters voted a couple of these players based on reputation instead of ability. It's proof this game is a glorified friendly and a popularity contest.

Nick Rimando has been a solid goalkeeper for many years, but David Ousted and Bill Hamid have had outstanding seasons. Those are two names who should have been given a spot on the roster.

Graham Zusi, another U.S. international, was also voted in by the fans. Finlay, Krisztian Nemeth, Fabian Castillo and Harry Shipp have had better seasons than Zusi, but they're not members of the U.S. men's national team and not as well known.

Kevin Egan @kev_egan

Zusi picked to MLS All Star 11... Giovinco left out of MLS All Star 11... Please!!! 😂

This was Garber's rationale for picking Lampard and Gerrard. However, if the league wants this game to be about money and viewership, it should just be a simple friendly.

A genuine All-Star Game would be in an East vs. West or USA vs. World format. The league staged both in the past. The latter would be a fantastic game, especially with all of the foreign talent on MLS rosters. 

However, whether or not a United States vs. World match would attract as many viewers as 2014's game is unknown. Ratings from 2001 to 2004 were modest, per Sports Business Daily. The numbers between 2008 and 2014 are comparable.

The matches from 2001 to 2004 were either East vs. West, against the U.S. men's national team or featured Mexican side Guadalajara. A lot has changed over the last 11 years in this league, so it's possible that a USA vs. World game could succeed.

This is when it would be appropriate to include Lampard and Gerrard. It will be intriguing to see how Garber's picks impact the upcoming All-Star Game and MLS as a whole. It's certainly not covering itself in glory right now.

Peter Galindo covers MLS and U.S. soccer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @GalindoPW.

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