Thursday, April 24, 2014
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David Beckham, Thierry Henry lead Major League Soccer All-Star Game First XI; Philadelphia Union shut out

Major League Soccer has announced the first 11 players on the roster for its All-Star Game squad, which will face Chelsea at PPL Park on July 25 at 8:30 p.m.

David Beckham, Thierry Henry lead Major League Soccer All-Star Game First XI; Philadelphia Union shut out

David Beckham and Thierry Henry are the most prominent names on the MLS All-Star Game First XI. (Jason Redmond/AP file photo)
David Beckham and Thierry Henry are the most prominent names on the MLS All-Star Game First XI. (Jason Redmond/AP file photo)

Major League Soccer has announced the first 11 players on the roster for its All-Star Game squad, which will face Chelsea at PPL Park on July 25 at 8:30 p.m.

No Union players were recognized in the vote of fans and media that produced this list.

Goalkeeper: Jimmy Nielsen (Sporting Kansas City)
Defenders: Steven Beitashour (San Jose Earthquakes), Aurélien Collin (Sporting Kansas City), Jay DeMerit (Vancouer Whitecaps), Heath Pearce (New York Red Bulls)
Midfielders: David Beckham (Los Angeles Galaxy), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy), Dwayne De Rosario (D.C. United), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
Forwards: Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

This is not necessarily the starting lineup. All-Star team coach Ben Olsen will announce his 18-player game-day roster during the New York Red Bulls-Seattle Sounders game next Sunday (July 15), and we probably won't know the actual starting lineup until soon before the game.

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The rest of the 32-player roster will come from two sources. First, MLS commissioner Don Garber will pick two names, which will also be announced on July 15. Then a vote of players will select the remaining 14 players, who will be named as reserves. That announcement will come on July 25, the day of the All-Star game.

(Being named as a reserve isn't meaningless: those players get a bonus check. Given the relatively low salaries that most MLS players make compared to other North American athletes, that check is not inconsequential.)

It should be pointed out that Olsen is not required to pick the First XI in his game-day roster. He can pick an entirely different group of 18 from the set of players nominated if he wants. Olsen also is not required to select the commissioner's picks, but I'd say the odds on that happening are rather low.


 

Among the notable omissions from the First XI were a pair of holding midfielders who are among the best players anywhere in MLS: Seattle's Osvaldo Alonso and Real Salt Lake's Kyle Beckerman.

I suspect that those two will be on Olsen's game-day roster. It would not surprise me if Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando, Sounders forward Eddie Johnson, D.C. United forward Chris Pontius and Union midfielder Freddy Adu are also named in some form. Adu might be a commissioner's pick, though I think he'll be on the game-day roster too.

All of the midfielders and forwards named to the First XI are virtual locks to be on the game-day roster, whether because of their talents or their reputations. Olsen may be allowed to select players based on his own tactical preferences, but he isn't going to ignore the spectacle. 

I think Union defender Sheanon Williams deserves to be on the game-day squad. But I'm not sure he'll get the honor, because he isn't really widely recognized across MLS (though he's certainly known to Olsen).

Among Williams' competitors is another right back, Vancouver's Lee Young-Pyo. The former South Korea national team stalwart would bring the game some attention in his native country.

Could that be a consideration? We'll see. It's noteworthy enough that David Beckham made the First XI, since it was only eight days ago that he was dropped from Great Britain's Olympic soccer squad. I wonder if Beckham would have been named to the First XI had he won the vote and also been on the Olympic team.

I know that many of you would like to see Carlos Valdés on the All-Star team. I would be happy with that as well, but I don't think he'll be picked over Adu. Valdés could contend with Williams for a spot on the game-day roster.

Now, over to you. Are you surprised that no Union players made the First XI? Which Union player or players do you want to see in the game-day roster? Fire away in the comments.

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
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The Goalkeeper is your home for the latest news about the Philadelphia Union, Major League Soccer, U.S. national teams and the rest of the world's most popular sport. It's also a place for fans to gather and celebrate the culture of soccer and its unique place on the sports landscape.

Reach Jonathan at jtannenwald@phillynews.com or 215-854-2330.

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
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