The Halfway All-Star Team: Who might face AS Roma on July 31 in Kansas City? | THE SIDELINE
AS Roma are the opponents for the 2013 AT&T MLS All-Star Game in Kansas City, that much was announced on Thursday. The players who'll take the field and represent the league? That's still uncertain.
Voting will launch in the coming weeks here on MLSsoccer.com, but with nearly two months to the day until the July 31 matchup, we're a little more than halfway to the All-Star Game.
With that in mind, I present my "Halfway All-Star Team."
Goalkeeper: Clint Irwin
Irwin came out of nowhere in the Rapids' third game of the season, and has allowed an astoundingly low seven goals in nearly 11 full games. Another deserving candidate that's highly unlikely to be voted in: Raúl Fernández, FC Dallas.
Defenders: Michel, Jámison Olave, Omar Gonzalez and Zach Loyd
Michel will be in the running for Newcomer of the Year when the season ends, that much is sure. Olave has avoided injuries for the most part and is reminding folks why he was the 2010 MLS Defender of the Year. Omar Gonzalez is still Omar Gonzalez against MLS competition. Loyd is rarely flashy, but a steady hand along the right for the current Supporters' Shield leaders.
Midfielders: Graham Zusi, Will Johnson, Marcelo Sarvas and Brad Davis
We knew Will Johnson was good when he was with Real Salt Lake, but he's taken it to a completely different level this year. Marcelo Sarvas has cushioned the blow of losing David Beckham for the Galaxy and found himself to be a regular contributor in the attacking third. Brad Davis is still probably the best wide left player in MLS, and continues to earn US national team call-ups.
Forwards: Marco Di Vaio and Jack McInerney
Nine goals each, three ahead of the rest of the league. What more can be said for these two guys who can't stop scoring at the moment?
And now, MLS' "best XI," in the event that we're looking to field the team most capable of taking down Roma.
Goalkeeper: Michael Gspurning
Irwin has been an outstanding performer this year, but few would argue the 24-year-old has the pedigree and shot-stopping abilities of the big Austrian. If he stays with the Sounders, Gspurning could remain MLS' top goalkeeper for the next five years.
Defenders: Michel, Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez and Zach Loyd
Besler and Gonzalez showed in March what they can do together against the likes of Mexico in Estadio Azteca, so that's probably a center-back partnership you would like to keep together.
Midfielders: Graham Zusi, Will Johnson, Patrice Bernier and Landon Donovan
Johnson and Bernier in the middle provide the stability, ball-winning and ability to pass out of danger that will be required with Michael Bradley and Daniele De Rossi buzzing around in the middle third. Zusi and Donovan, a duo that wouldn't be a terrible look for the US national team, bring the pace, creativity and service from the flanks. They'll look to provide for a couple of decent targets in the penalty area.
Forwards: Marco Di Vaio and Thierry Henry
Henry loves to drop deeper into the midfield these days, so that fills a void with two workhorses in central midfield and can provide the kind of splitting through balls Di Vaio requires as he toes every blade of grass along the backline.
What do you think? Who was most glaringly left off the list? Who's not been that great and you feel only been included based on name recognition?