MetroStars midfielder Amado Guevara has been selected as a starter for the 2005 Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game in Columbus, Ohio on July 30. The MLS squad will face English Premier League club Fulham FC at 3:30 p.m. ET in a match that will be aired live on ABC. FC Dallas leads all teams with four players selected as starters for the event.
The Hoops' dominance on the MLS first 11 starts at the front, where Eddie Johnson and Carlos Ruiz have been selected as the two starting forwards. Johnson, a revelation in both the league and the U.S. national team in the past year, will be making his first All-Star appearance this year. Last year, he tied for the league lead in goals with 12, and he has scored eight times in only eight international appearances. Ruiz, the 2002 MLS MVP and 2003 All-Star Game MVP, has yet to miss out on an All-Star Game. He'll be making his fourth appearance later this month.
In the midfield, FCD's Ronnie O'Brien will be making his second All-Star appearance. Since returning from a broken leg suffered in 2003, O'Brien has been the sparkplug in midfield for FC Dallas. He totaled two goals and 10 assists last season in earning MLS Best XI and Comeback Player of the Year honors, and he has five goals and seven assists at the midway point this season. Defender Greg Vanney closes out the Dallas contingent in the starting lineup. Vanney returned to MLS after four years in France's Ligue 1 to anchor one of the stingiest defenses in the league, which has allowed just one goal per game.
The New England Revolution are close behind FC Dallas with three starters selected. Matt Reis will stand between the posts for the MLS side after turning in an amazing first half. Reis, who will make his first All-Star appearance, is only slightly off record pace with a 0.94 goals against average, and he has registered a league-high seven shutouts so far this year.
Also starting on July 30 are two Revolution midfielders: Clint Dempsey and Shalrie Joseph. Dempsey has cooled off a bit since torching opponents for five goals in five straight matches earlier this season, but still stands as one of the league's most exciting young stars. Grenadian international Joseph is one of the top defensive midfielders in the league and a menace on set pieces. The All-Star selection is the second for both Dempsey and Joseph.
Filling out the All-Star midfield are two players who demand inclusion in any debate about the league's top player. The Los Angeles Galaxy's Landon Donovan returned to MLS after a brief stint with German club Bayer Leverkusen and led the Galaxy on a tear through the first third of the season. The 2001 All-Star MVP will make his fifth consecutive appearance in the league's midsummer showcase.
MLS Honda MVP last season, Amado Guevara of the MetroStars, will also line up in the midfield for MLS. A year ago, Guevara earned All-Star MVP honors for his two-goal performance at Washington's RFK Stadium, tied for the Budweiser scoring title and won Best XI honors. This year will mark his third consecutive All-Star appearance.
In the back, Vanney will be joined by Real Salt Lake's Eddie Pope and Jimmy Conrad of the Kansas City Wizards. Pope moved to expansion RSL from the MetroStars in the offseason and has continued to lay claim to his title as the most accomplished MLS and U.S. national team defender ever. By making his ninth All-Star appearance, Pope ties former D.C. United teammate Jeff Agoos for the most all-time selections. Conrad has only been recently added to the list of elite MLS defenders. He stood out at the back for the MLS Cup runner-up Wizards last season, earning an All-Star nod and Best XI honors and finishing among the finalists for Defender of the Year.
The MLSnet.com fan balloting, which concluded Friday, accurately "predicted" seven of the 11 starters. Both Vanney and Guevara finished just on the fringe in the fan voting at their respective positions, with Vanney coming in fourth among defenders and Guevara finishing sixth among midfielders. Both Conrad and Joseph finished out of the top 10 at their positions, but strong showings in the voting by players, coaches and general managers helped push them into the starting lineup.
The starting 11 was determined by online fan balloting (25 percent), and voting by the media (25 percent), players (25 percent) and MLS coaches and GMs (25 percent). With each voting category counting for a quarter of the total votes, the formula used for determining the starters involved assigning 25 total points to each category for a possible total of 100 points. Therefore if a player received 50 percent of the votes in any category, he would earn 12.5 points for that category. For example, Donovan received 9.70 points for online balloting, which is 38.82 (total percentage of online votes) percent of the 25 total points in that category.
|2005 Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game Starters|
Jason Halpin is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.