Meet the All-Star starters
Henry Ring (Chicago Fire): Now in his fourth MLS season, Ring finally won the starting job in Chicago after serving as back-up to Zach Thornton for three years. The native of Tennessee, who had played in just two MLS matches since joining the league in 2001, has taken full advantage and registered a league-leading six shutouts in his 14 starts this season. His 1.07 goals against average ranks third in MLS as his poise and consistent play in his penalty area earned him his first All-Star selection.
Frankie Hejduk (Columbus Crew) - The 2004 All-Star Game will mark Hejduk's second consecutive All-Star selection since returning to MLS last year after a stint in the German Bundesliga. Although elected as a defender, the versatile Hejduk has assumed more of a wide midfield role with the Crew this year and he has been able to contribute two goals while starting in nine matches. Known for his tireless work rate on the right flank since being selected to his first All-Star Game back in 1998, the two-time World Cup veteran is arguably the best right-sided wide player in MLS and his performances have made him a regular and dependable member of the U.S. national team.
Eddie Pope (MetroStars) - Now in his second season with the MetroStars, Pope is an elegant, accomplished central defender who is arguably the best in U.S. history. Selected to the All-Star Game for eight consecutive years, the U.S. national team stalwart and two-time World Cup veteran (1998, 2002) made an immediate impact upon moving to the MetroStars for the 2003 season, wearing the captain's armband and bringing his settling and commanding presence to the back line. The 1997 MLS Defender of the Year and three-time MLS Best XI selection made his name with D.C. United from 1996 to 2002, capturing three MLS Cup titles and scoring several key goals along the way.
Jim Curtin (Chicago Fire) - A fixture in central defense for the Chicago Fire since joining the team as a rookie in 2001, Curtin has started every match for his club since the start of the 2002 MLS Cup Playoffs, including all 14 games this year. While his 6-4 frame makes him one of the most dominant players in the air, he is also effective at starting the team's attack from the back, where he has a knack of being in the right place at the right time.
Ryan Nelsen (D.C. United) - Captain for club and country (New Zealand) whose leadership and vocal presence have established him as one of the elite defenders in MLS, Nelsen will be making his second consecutive All-Star appearance. After missing several matches to World Cup qualifying this year, Nelsen's return coincided with his club moving into first place in the Eastern Conference. The fourth overall selection in the 2001 SuperDraft, Nelsen will be playing on his home field at RFK Stadium alongside fellow D.C. United teammate and All-Star starting forward Jaime Moreno, for first-year United head coach Peter Nowak.
DaMarcus Beasley (Chicago Fire) - At the age of 22, Beasley will be participating in his fourth consecutive All-Star Game. A regular on the U.S. national team and a veteran of the 2002 World Cup, Beasley is considered among the best young players in the world. His accelerating runs up and down the left flank and tireless play on both sides of the ball have made him a dangerous and invaluable member for both club and country.
Chris Armas (Chicago Fire) - The Fire's captain and U.S. national team regular earns his seventh consecutive All-Star selection, all since joining the Fire in the club's first year of existence in 1998. The holding midfielder, who has also contributed key goals for his club throughout the years, is a proven team leader and commands respect around the league for his work ethic, professionalism and consistency in the center of the park. The five-time MLS Best XI selection was elected to the 2002 MLS All-Star Game but watched from the sidelines due to a season-ending ACL tear in his knee which also kept him out of the 2002 U.S. World Cup squad.
Eddie Gaven (MetroStars) - The youngest player in history to be voted in as an All-Star starter, the 17-year-old midfielder earned his first All-Star selection. After starting just seven matches in his rookie year in 2003, Gaven has been a fixture in all 15 matches for his team this year, scoring four goals and registering five assists. One of the most skilful players in all MLS, Gaven is a key element of the MetroStars attack, always looking to run at defenders while also holding the ability to carve apart defenses with his passing. The former U.S. international at all youth levels will become the fourth youngest player in U.S. history to earn a senior cap if he plays against Poland on July 11.
Amado Guevara (MetroStars) - Captain of the Honduras national team and MetroStars playmaker, who is making his second consecutive All-Star appearance, is the club's leading scorer with five goals and six assists at the halfway point of the 2004 season which put him at the top of the league scoring charts. Since joining MLS last season, "El Lobo" is considered among the most skilful players in the League with his close control and wonderful technical ability. With his international experience and expert vision, he has been able to take over the reins of a MetroStars squad which has incorporated several new elements over the last two seasons.
Damani Ralph (Chicago Fire) - The reigning MLS Rookie of the Year will be making his first career All-Star appearance in 2004. Following up on his 11 goals last year, which set an all-time rookie record, the Jamaican international leads his team with six goals at the halfway point of this season. His unpredictable and explosive play at forward has made for several spectacular, highlight-reel strikes - including the 2003 Goal of the Year.
Jaime Moreno (D.C. United) - The nine-year MLS veteran has experienced a rejuvenation in his return to D.C. United as he makes his first All-Star appearance since 2000. Following two consecutive injury-plagued seasons, including a 2003 campaign with the MetroStars in which he only started seven matches, Moreno has missed just two matches in 2004 and led the club in scoring at the season's halfway point. He has shown his form of old, turning in vintage performances featuring his trademark runs at defenders from midfield. A three-time MLS Cup champion with United (1996, 1997, 1999), Moreno is the last player remaining from the 1996 MLS Cup champion United squad.
Pat Onstad (San Jose Earthquakes) - The Canadian international makes his first All-Star appearance after a debut season in 2003 which saw him earn MLS Goalkeeper of the Year honors. Onstad immediately entered the group of elite MLS goalkeepers in 2003 with the culminating moment coming on a penalty kick save in MLS Cup 2003 which helped the Earthquakes win their second title in three years. Onstad's surehanded abilities in the penalty area and his vocal leadership on the back line have made him a towering presence in goal.
Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado Rapids) - An MLS All-Star for the last five seasons, Mastroeni has distinguished himself as one of MLS' top class defenders while earning international acclaim with spectacular performances for the U.S. National Team. After joining the Colorado Rapids in 2002, Mastroeni's play earned him a spot on the 2002 World Cup squad, where he started three matches and has been a mainstay of the U.S. team ever since. While proving his mettle at both central midfield and central defense with both club and country, the 27-year-old is now a permanent fixture as a defender on a Rapids team where he has shown quality timing and toughness in the tackle.
Cory Gibbs (Dallas Burn) - Gibbs earns his first All-Star selection in his debut season in the league after spending three years in Germany, where he became the youngest U.S. player to play a full match in the Bundesliga. A classy and slick defender, Gibbs has immediately established himself in MLS, also becoming a regular U.S. national team call-up. An overall complete defender with a combination of size and speed, Gibbs has become the leader of the rebuilt Burn.
Jeff Agoos (San Jose Earthquakes) - One of the most decorated U.S. players of all-time, Agoos will be making his ninth career All-Star appearance after being selected for each of the previous eight editions of the event, playing in the first seven. The experienced defender and veteran of the 2002 World Cup known for his accurate left foot has won more MLS Cup championship rings than any player in the history of the league, capturing his fifth title last year as captain of the Earthquakes. Since Agoos left RFK Stadium and D.C. United in 2001, he has served as the anchor of the team in central defense.
Chris Albright (Los Angeles Galaxy) - Albright earns his first All-Star selection as a right back after five previous seasons in which he alternated between forward and midfield positions. The experimental move to right back with the U.S. national team became permanent before this year's MLS season as Albright has redefined himself for both club and country after entering MLS in 1999 as a highly-touted goal-scoring forward. His performances on the Galaxy back line, characterized by his innate attacking ability in getting forward on the right flank have made him an irreplaceable member of the starting lineup.
Landon Donovan (San Jose Earthquakes) - The U.S. national team star makes his fourth consecutive All-Star appearance in a season where he's started to figure more in an attacking midfield role for the Earthquakes instead of as an out-and-out striker. The immensely talented native of California continues to show his propensity for deciding games singlehandedly, with sudden flashes of individual brilliance and darting runs in the opposition's half. With every season that has passed since his arrival in 2001, Donovan has assumed a greater leadership role, at times carrying both the Earthquakes and the the U.S. national team with sheer passion and determination.
Andreas Herzog (Los Angeles Galaxy) - The former Austrian international earns his first All-Star selection in his debut season in MLS with the Galaxy. Herzog, who has started every match for Los Angeles in the first half the season, is the central cog of the Galaxy attack with his refined left foot and pinpoint passing jumpstarting most of the club's attacks. A set piece specialist and a constant threat with his long-distance service, Herzog's experience has proven priceless to a team which kicked off its first season without Mauricio Cienfuegos, the team's original playmaker. A World Cup veteran (1990, 1998) and long-time player in the German and Austrian Bundesliga, Herzog tends to shift to the left side of midfield where he can pick apart the opposing defense with his left-footed strikes.
Ronnie O'Brien (Dallas Burn) - After joining MLS in the middle of the 2002 season and missing most of the 2003 season due to a broken leg, O'Brien has not missed a single minute of action this season as he earns his first All-Star appearance. An explosive midfielder gifted with quick feet, creativity and sudden bursts of acceleration, O'Brien is an established attacking threat down the right flank for the Burn. A former Republic of Ireland youth international, the one-time Juventus (Italy) and Middlesbrough (England) talent sets the tone for his team with his energy and relentless work rate.
Richard Mulrooney (San Jose Earthquakes) - In his sixth season with San Jose, Mulrooney will be making his second career All-Star appearance after being elected in 2002. Mulrooney has assumed a leadership role on the squad, making critical contributions on both sides of the ball from his central midfield role, winning possession with decisive tackling and immediately relaunching the Earthquakes attack with his accurate passing. Since coming to MLS in 1999, he has been more of a distributor than a scorer from midfield and he has another six assists to his name this year. One of the longest serving members of the club, Mulrooney has been the constant in an Earthquakes team that has captured two MLS Cup titles in three years.
Brian Ching (San Jose Earthquakes) - Following a promising 2003 season which was cut short due to an Achilles tendon injury, Ching picked up where he left off this year with a team-leading seven goals in 14 games, the second highest total in MLS at the halfway point of the campaign. A classic target forward and a dominant aerial presence in attack, Ching has also established himself as a strong finisher. His performances won him the attention of U.S. national team manager Bruce Arena, who called him up for the USA's friendly against Poland, where Ching will be looking for his first international cap since he appeared in May of 2003 against Wales.
Carlos Ruiz (Los Angeles Galaxy) - One of the most prolific scorers in MLS history, "El Pescadito" Ruiz is once again atop the goal-scoring charts after leading MLS in goals in each of his first two seasons. The Guatemalan national team captain and 2003 MLS All-Star MVP is a pure finisher who can create goals out of nothing. Ruiz was forced to sit out a month due to an ankle injury earlier this season but shortly after his return to the starting lineup this year, he did not miss a beat, immediately regaining the MLS lead in goals with a two-goal game against San Jose.