At this time of year, it's almost impossible to avoid the buzz created by the NHL and NBA playoffs. That's especially true in Philadelphia, and even more so on a day like today. It's pretty special that the Flyers and 76ers (and Phillies) will be playing big games at literally the exact same time.
(It's a headache as regards my real job, though, as I'll be overseeing all of our online coverage of tonight's action. The television near my desk will be getting quite a workout.)
Nonetheless, I've had enough time to keep at least one eye on my MLS All-Star Game watch list. And since it's the first day of May, it's time for the latest edition of All-Star Astrology.
Given today's events, I couldn't pass up the chance to pay tribute to one of the great all-stars in the city's sports history: Moses Malone. He made the NBA All-Star game 12 times in his 20-year career, and of course helped the 76ers win the 1983 championship.
When Peter Nowak was appointed as coach of the MLS All-Star team, I decided to change the base formation for my watch list to a 4-4-2. In Malone's honor, I'm calling it a Fo'-Fo'-Two. We'll see if it delivers the hardware the way Malone did back in the day.
I realize that Nowak usually plays a 4-5-1, whether or not anyone will admit it. But since the point of the All-Star Game is to entertain, I figured I should play two forwards.
(Yes, I know what your retort is to that. I thought of it first, believe me. I also wondered while writing this what it would be like if Malone was the target forward in Nowak's system. It's pretty easy to connect on headers if you're 6-foot-10.)
As I did last month, I've set out some rules on on how I've picked players. The most important is to have at least one player represented from every team, and no more than two from any team.
This makes picking players incredibly hard - much harder, in fact, than I thought it would be originally.
It would be easy to pick a squad composed almost entirely of players from Sporting Kansas City and Real Salt Lake. That's how good those two teams have been this season. But it's no fun to do things the easy way.
I had to switch a lot of players around to make this all work. So much that the guy who is currently MLS' best goalkeeper, Kansas City's Jimmy Nielsen, didn't make the cut. Even I think that's crazy, but there were two Sporting players who I really felt deserved consideration first.
In total, 13 of the 22 players on the list have changed since last month.
So here is my latest All-Star Game watch list. I'm sure you'll agree with some of the selections and disagree with a lot of them, and I hope you'll post your views in the comments.
Players by Position (names in alphabetical order)
Goalkeepers (4): Jon Busch (San Jose Earthquakes), Michael Gspurning (Seattle Sounders), Dan Kennedy (Chivas USA), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
Defenders (8): Geoff Cameron (Houston Dynamo), Aurélien Collin (Sporting Kansas City), Matteo Ferrari (Montréal Imapct), Lee Young-Pyo (Vancouver Whitecaps), Zach Loyd (FC Dallas), Chad Marshall (Columbus Crew), Ashtone Morgan (Toronto FC), Sheanon Williams (Philadelphia Union)
Midfielders (13): Osvaldo Alonso (Seattle Sounders), Davy Arnaud (Montréal Impact), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Nick DeLeon (D.C. United), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy), Gabriel Gomez (Philadelphia Union), Sebastián Grazzini (Chicago Fire), Shalrie Joseph (New England Revolution), Juninho (Los Angeles Galaxy), Jeff Larentowicz (Colorado Rapids), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Camilo Sanvezzo (Vancouver Whitecaps), Brek Shea (FC Dallas)
Forwards (7): Kris Boyd (Portland Timbers), Kenny Cooper (New York Red Bulls), Omar Cummings (Colorado Rapids), Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls), Kei Kamara (Sporting Kansas City), Maicon Santos (D.C. United), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
Players by Team
Chicago Fire: Sebastián Grazzini
Chivas USA: Dan Kennedy
Colorado Rapids: Omar Cummings, Jeff Larentowicz
Columbus Crew: Chad Marshall
D.C. United: Nick DeLeon, Maicon Santos
FC Dallas: Zach Loyd, Brek Shea
Houston Dynamo: Geoff Cameron
Los Angeles Galaxy: Landon Donovan, Juninho
Montréal Impact: Davy Arnaud, Matteo Ferrari
New England Revolution: Shalrie Joseph
New York Red Bulls: Kenny Cooper, Thierry Henry
Philadelphia Union: Gabriel Gomez, Sheanon Williams
Portland Timbers: Kris Boyd, Darlington Nagbe
Real Salt Lake: Kyle Beckerman, Nick Rimando
San Jose Earthquakes: Jon Busch, Chris Wondolowski
Seattle Sounders: Osvaldo Alonso, Michael Gspurning
Sporting Kansas City: Aurélien Collin, Kei Kamara
Toronto FC: Ashtone Morgan
Vancouver Whitecaps: Lee Young-Pyo, Camilo Sanvezzo
Goalkeepers: Kennedy, Rimando
Midfielders: Arnaud, Camilo, Gomez, Grazzini, Juninho
Forwards: Boyd, Cummings, Kamara
Changes from last month
Jon Busch replaced Milos Kocic
Michael Gspurning replaced Matt Reis
Aurélien Collin replaced Ugo Ihemelu
Matteo Ferrari replaced Jay DeMerit
Sheanon Williams replaced Chance Myers
Zach Loyd replaced Ramiro Corrales
Davy Arnaud replaced Patrice Bernier
Nick DeLeon replaced Dwayne De Rosario
Juninho replaced Brad Davis
Camilo Sanvezzo replaced Freddy Adu
Omar Cummings replaced C.J. Sapong
Kei Kamara replaced Robbie Keane
Maicon Santos replaced Fredy Montero