Major League Soccer announced Tuesday that Eastern Conference MLS All-Star head coach Peter Nowak has selected four replacement players -- Columbus Crew defender Robin Fraser, D.C. United midfielder Dema Kovalenko and New England Revolution teammates Steve Ralston and Shalrie Joseph -- to be added to this weekend's East selection. The 2004 Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game, to be played on Saturday at RFK Stadium in Washington D.C. and will be televised live on ABC Sports at 2 p.m. ET, will be preceded by a Celebration Game featuring MLS USA Legends versus the MLS World Legends.
The four standouts replace two previously named East starters -- D.C. United defender Ryan Nelsen and former Chicago Fire winger DaMarcus Beasley -- as well as reserves Clint Dempsey (New England Revolution) and former United midfielder Bobby Convey on what will be the final 17-man roster for the 2004 Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game. Nowak will determine the remaining two slots in his starting lineup later in the week, as well as unveil the name of the East captain.
Western Conference head coach Sigi Schmid will also be forced to field 17 players in the midsummer exhibition, as Colorado Rapids midfielder Pablo Mastroeni, announced as a West starter last month, will miss the next four-to-six weeks due to an injured left quadriceps. Schmid will also announce his captain and starting lineup later in the week.
Crew defender Robin Fraser returns to the MLS All-Star festivities for the first time (5th overall) since the 2000 season, when he was a member of the West representing the Los Angeles Galaxy. Fraser, 37, has been the rock in a Crew defense that has allowed just 17 goals in 16 games this year. One of only two 2004 All-Stars to have participated in the Inaugural 1996 MLS All-Star Game (Jeff Agoos), Fraser is a four-time MLS Best XI selection and currently ranks seventh on the all-time MLS games played list.
United's Dema Kovalenko, who ranks third on his team with ten points (two goals, six assists), is in his second season with United and will be making his third All-Star Game appearance in four years after earning selections in 2001 and 2002 while playing with the Chicago Fire. Since joining the Black-and-Red last season, the Indiana University product has become a notable force in United's midfield, where he has terrorized opponents with his unmatched fervor and relentless style of play.
Grenadian international Shalrie Joseph is a first-time All-Star selection having played in 11 of 18 games for the New England Revolution as a defensive midfielder as well as on the defensive back line. One of the surprise success stories in MLS in 2003, Joseph possesses all the qualities necessary to shoulder the midfield "dirty work", while at the same time possessing a cultured touch and the ability to pass the ball well over distance. Joseph has made a mark for himself as one of the league's pre-eminent midfield ball-winners.
Iron man Steve Ralston of the New England Revolution makes his fourth All-Star appearance, as the league's all-time leader in games played (248), games started (246), and minutes played (21,928) previously appeared in 1997, 2000 and 2002. Known for his ability to turn defenders with a variety of dribbling moves and through balls throughout his eight and a half years in MLS, Ralston's quality crossing pass and work habits are hallmarks of his game. In 2004, Ralston has played four different positions for New England. Serving as an emergency fill-in at right fullback due to the Revs' injury problems, he has demonstrated great defensive ability at the position while choosing his spots to aid the attack.
The 2004 Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game featuring MLS All-Stars, as well as the MLS Celebration Game honoring the legacy of the 1994 World Cup offers six levels of ticket pricing, ranging from $25 to $60 for individuals, and $16 to $40 for groups of varying sizes. Tickets are on sale now. Group Sales information is available by calling D.C. United at (202) 587-5000; or visiting www.dcunited.com online and RFK Stadium advance sales during all D.C. United home games. Individual tickets can be obtained through TicketMaster -- (202) 432-SEAT (metro D.C.); (410)481-SEAT (Baltimore & MD); (703)573-SEAT (Virginia); or online at www.ticketmaster.com and at all TicketMaster outlets including HECHT's, Tower Records and at RFK Stadium.
The 2004 Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Weekend is an extravaganza of soccer-themed events and programs, all of which aim to pay tribute to the past, present and future of American soccer. Through clinics, on-field presentations, pre-game and halftime ceremonies, "Soccer Celebration" events for families and youth, player autograph sessions and more, MLS and Sierra Mist will recognize the importance of youth participation as the future of our sport.
The 2004 Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game features two 45-minute halves, divided by a 15-minute halftime period. Should the game end tied after regulation, there will be NO overtime or penalty kicks. Each team will be allowed six substitutes, while re-entry WILL be permitted in the event of injury.