With an MLS All-Star XI preparing for their friendly at Real Madrid (taking place later this hour, Fox Soccer Channel, 3:30 PM EST), it is hard to understand why such a midweek fixture is taking place during a crucial point in the US league’s season, coming just 3 days after the US National team’s World Cup Qualifier against Trinidad & Tobago as well.

Even more baffling is the fascination that certain past-their-prime European stars hold for various American journalists. ESPN The Magazine’s recent David Beckham cover story had the obligatory “what if?” musings about a possible Becks transfer to the States, as does Grant Wahl’s “Kick Start” in Sports Illustrated, dated August 15 :

What’s the next step for a league that’s growing but still not profitable? One possibility : carefully chosen imported superstars. After Real Madrid’s recent friendly in against the Galaxy in L.A., no fewer than four Galacticos —- David Beckham, Ronaldo, Luis Figo and Raul — told SI they would like to finish their careers in the U.S. “Playing in the MLS definitely interests me,” Beckham said after the sold-out match which had scalpers asking up to $800 a ticket. “If that can carry on with soccer games all over America, that’s what I’d like to achieve.”

The key words above are “finish their careers”. All 4 of the players mentioned have seen their best days and are unlikely to challenging for first team football in 4-5 years time, at least not in La Liga. Does MLS really want to go the route travelled by the NASL — a retirement tour / easy payday for onetime greats? Surely I’m not the only one who remembers Lothar Mattheus’ brutal tenure at the Meadowlands. If you were trying to give a European basketball league some credibility, would you break the bank for Gary Payton in 2008? Can Brett Favre look forward to a contract offer from a fledgling American football federation based on Mars in say, 2020?

Back in the present day, Liverpool, are trailing CSKA Sofia, 1-0 in the 2nd leg of their Champions League third qualifying round contest., currently showing on Setanta Sports US. Liverpool entered the night with a 3-1 lead from the away leg.

In the night’s true glamour tie, 10 man QPR are preparing to make their annual early exit from the League Cup, trailing 2-0 at Northampton.

(ADDENDUM : Real Madrid 2, MLS XI 0 after 40 minutes, goals from Beckham and Ronaldo. They’d be singing “can we play you every week?” at the Bernabeu, but they’re laughing too hard).