The following players were announced Sunday as the fan selected “First XI” (not starters, but top fan choices at each position) for the All-Star game Wednesday July 25th at PPL Park in Philadelphia against Chelsea.
GOALKEEPER- Jimmy Nielsen (Sporting KC)
DEFENDERS- Steven Beitashour (San Jose Earthquakes), Aurelien Collin (Sporting KC), Jay DeMerit (Vancouver Whitecaps), Heath Pearce (New York Red Bulls).
MIDFIELDERS- David Beckham (LA Galaxy), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Graham Zusi (Sporting KC), Dwayne DeRosario (D.C. United)
FORWARDS- Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
MLS All-Star coach Ben Olsen will have 15 more names for that squad to be debuted this week. Here’s who he should pick to round out the squad
G (2): Dan Kennedy (Chivas USA), Andy Gruenebaum (Columbus Crew)
The skinny: Simply put these two have been the best pure shot stoppers in the league this year. Gruenebaum has kept Columbus in the hunt, while Kennedy should start earning comparisons (in style and quickness) to Tim Howard. He’s that good an athlete.
DEF (4):Justin Morrow (San Jose) Victor Bernardez (San Jose), Geoff Cameron (Houston), Lee Young-Pyo (Vancouver Whitecaps)
The skinny: Justin Morrow has bulked up and now has size to match his speed. He’s still prone to mental gaffes, but once he gains some more maturity you’re looking at unique specimen their at left back. His backline mate Victor Bernardez has simply owned the skies in every match he’s played. He plays with a scowl and a nasty streak and with some deceptive trackback ability as well.
Young-Pyo Lee is the Giovanni Van Bronckhorst of the group. Steady and tested.
MID (6): Marvin Chavez (San Jose), Chris Pontius (DC United), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Osvaldo Alonso (Seattle Sounders), Dax McCarty (New York Red Bulls), Michael Farfan (Philadelphia)
The skinny: Marvin Chaves. Width. No more needs to be said.
Chris Pontius–while benefitting from DeRo stationed next to him–is still converting his chances.
The two controversial selections here are McCarty and Farfan (Farfan narrowly edging out Felipe Martins of Montreal on current form). McCarty is a glue guy. Beyond playing any role asked this year in New York, he can be moved anywhere on the field, understand the role and give you more than just hustle. Farfan–more than the “now I feel like it” Freddy Adu–has been turned loose effectively new coach John Hackworth. Union fans have to be excited.
FWD (3): Saer Sene (New England Revolution), Steven Lenhart (San Jose Earthquakes), Darren Mattocks (Vancouver Whitecaps)
The skinny: The tip of the spear selection criteria is a little different here. While Sene is deserving, the selections of Lenhart and Mattocks (over say Koevermans and Oduro) are questionable. The two were selected because they don’t need a full game to get into rhythm nor are they are expecting ones.
Both bring something a little different to the table, whether it’s Lenhart’s goofy attitude and willingness to risk injury on a play or Mattocks utter lack of understanding of his own immaturity.
Most glaring omissions: Brek Shea (FC Dallas), Kenny Cooper (New York Red Bulls)
Who you got?
DEF: Beitashour, Bernardez, DeMerit, Morrow
RM/LM: Zusi, Pontius
STR: Lenhart, Wondolowski
*Note: Can’t have Henry and DeRosario on the pitch at the same time in our opinion; they own the same space.
Who you got?