NEW YORK - Major League Soccer today finalized the 18-man rosters of the East and West teams for the 2004 Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game to be played on Saturday, July 31 at RFK Stadium in Washington D.C. East Head Coach Peter Nowak (D.C. United) and West Head Coach Sigi Schmid (Los Angeles Galaxy) named a combined total of 13 reserve selections in addition to the pair of "Commissioner's Picks" (one per conference) selected by MLS Commissioner Don Garber. The League's midsummer showcase will be televised nationally, live on ABC Sports beginning at 2:00 p.m. (ET).
The reserve selections in the East are highlighted by four D.C. United players (Bobby Convey, Alecko Eskandarian, Ben Olsen and Freddy Adu) while New England will be represented at the Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game by rookie Clint Dempsey and Pat Noonan, with Columbus picking up an additional spot by the selection of goalkeeper Jon Busch. The West reserves include four Kansas City Wizards players (Jimmy Conrad, Chris Klein, Josh Wolff and Kerry Zavagnin), two Los Angeles Galaxy stars (Kevin Hartman and Jovan Kirovski) and MLS' all-time leading goal scorer Jason Kreis (Dallas Burn). Galaxy defender Danny Califf was also named to the squad but will not be able to participate due to injury and will not count against the West roster. Adu and Kreis are the respective Commissioner's Picks for the East and West squad.
"Jason Kreis and Freddy Adu personify the theme of the 2004 Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game - honoring the past, present and future of MLS," Garber said. "The selection of the League's all-time leading goal scorer in our nine-year history and the inclusion of one of the top youth prospects in the world helps recognize the founders of this League and celebrates the promise the future holds."
With the inclusion of New England and Kansas City players among the All-Star reserves, every one of MLS' 10 teams will be represented on July 31. D.C. United will have a League-high total of six players at the event, followed by Chicago Fire, San Jose Earthquakes and Los Angeles Galaxy with five players each. The Kansas City Wizards (4), MetroStars (3), Dallas Burn (3), New England Revolution (2), Columbus Crew (2) and Colorado Rapids (1) round out the affiliation of all 36 players.
Eight of the 15 reserve selections received their first career All-Star selection, joining 10 other first-time All-Stars from the list of starters unveiled on Friday, July 9.
The 2004 Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game is the main attraction of a weekend extravaganza of soccer-themed events and programs, all of which aim to pay tribute to the future of American soccer. Thousands of the 15 million registered youth participants under the age of 18 will have the opportunity throughout the weekend to see, touch and feel the approachable heroes of Major League Soccer past and present. Through clinics, on-field presentations, pre-game and halftime ceremonies, "Soccer Celebration" events for families and youth, player autograph sessions and more, MLS will recognize the importance of youth participation as the future of our sport.
Prior to the July 31 East vs. West contest, MLS will honor its tradition, history and pioneers by hosting an MLS Reunion Match, which will feature players who participated in the 1994 World Cup and then went on to play in MLS. The celebration game will kick off at 12:30 p.m. ET, with two 25-minute halves divided by a 10-minute halftime, with MLS USA stars vs. MLS World heroes. The rosters of those two teams will be announced later this week. The MLS-USA team will be coached by current Honduras technical director Bora Milutinovic, the only manager in FIFA World Cup history to have guided five different nations in the World Cup finals (Mexico - '86; Costa Rica - '90; USA - '94; Nigeria - '98; China - '02). The MLS-World squad will be coached by former D.C. United and current U.S. National Team Manager Bruce Arena.
Also, during the live telecast of the 2004 Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game on ABC, Sierra Mist will award one lucky viewer a spot as a contestant in the Pepsi "Play For A Billion" Sweepstakes. The winning sweepstakes code will be announced live during the Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game and the person with the winning number will travel to Los Angeles, Calif. in September to appear on the televised one-hour prime-time special and compete for a chance to win the $1 billion prize. One of the "Play For A Billion" contestants is guaranteed to win $1 million.
The 2004 Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game featuring MLS All-Stars and the MLS Celebration Match celebrating 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. For Group Sales information, fan can contact D.C. United at (703) 587-5000 or online at www.dcunited.com and at RFK Stadium advance sales during all D.C. United home games. Individual tickets can be purchased at TicketMaster - (202) 432 - SEAT (metro D.C.); (410) 481 - SEAT (Baltimore & MD); (703) 573 - SEAT (Virginia), online at www.ticketmaster.com and at all TicketMaster outlets including HECHT's, Tower Records and at RFK Stadium.
Soccer fans in the nation's capital have proven to be some of the country's most loyal as shown by United's average attendance over the club's nine-year history which has been greater than 15,000 since the League's inception. United's average home attendance of 19,191 after six games in the 2004 regular season ranks second in the League. The fans turned out in large numbers once again on Aug. 3, 2002 as 31,096 braved violent thunderstorms at the 2002 All-Star Game in which the MLS All-Stars defeated the U.S. National Team 3-2. RFK Stadium, also host of the 1997 and 2000 MLS Cup championship finals, is home to D.C.'s passionate and knowledgeable supporters clubs including the Screaming Eagles and Barra Brava, which have repeatedly given United one of the most intimidating home-field advantages in MLS.
EAST RESERVE PLAYER BIOS
Freddy Adu (15yrs - D.C. United) - Widely recognized as the most talented young soccer player in the world today, 15-year-old Freddy Adu became the youngest professional athlete in the history of modern American team sports when he took the field for his MLS debut on April 3, 2004 in front of a national television audience on ABC Sports. The first overall selection in the 2004 SuperDraft by D.C. United, Adu has already played in 16 games and scored two goals. An immigrant from Ghana who moved to the U.S. with his family at the age of eight, Adu joined MLS after a stellar youth national team career which saw him star at both the Under-17 and Under-20 World Championships in 2003.
Jon Busch (27yrs - Columbus Crew) - Despite being among the shortest goalkeepers in MLS today, Busch commands his penalty area like few do in MLS. Since winning the starting job in 2002, when he registered the second lowest goals-against-average in the League (1.09) and played every minute en route to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup championship, Busch has exhibited the reflexes and alertness which have made him one of the toughest goalkeepers to beat. A former A-League Goalkeeper of the Year and a college standout with the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, Busch will be making his first All-Star team on the strength of five shutouts and a 1.14 goals-against-average thus far in 2004.
Bobby Convey (21yrs - D.C. United) - After coming into MLS in 2000 as the youngest player in League history at the time, Convey is now an established leader for both club and country as he is selected to his second All-Star Game (did not play due to injury in 2001). Now in his fifth season with D.C. United, Convey has become a fixture at left midfield, while occupying the left back position as a regular starter with the U.S. National Team. A classy left-footed player with crafty skills and creative vision, Convey has attracted the interest of some of the top clubs in the world, with Tottenham Hotspur of the English Premier League signing him in 2003 only for the move to be scuttled due to denial of a work permit.
Clint Dempsey (21yrs - New England Revolution) - The Nike Project-40 player has justified the expectations of the New England Revolution and Head Coach Steve Nicol, who made him the No. 8 selection in the 2004 MLS SuperDraft. The Furman University product and U.S. youth international has played in every one of the Revolution's 15 matches on the season, starting all but one game. In registering four goals, ranking him second on the team in scoring, Dempsey has shown impressive versatility, serving as needed both in midfield and at center forward in what has been an injury-riddled season for the Revolution. A tough, hardnosed battler with a complete skill set, the stoic Dempsey has played like a veteran, leaving his mark with a never-say-die attitude and his penchant for diving headers in the box.
Alecko Eskandarian (22yrs - D.C. United) - After scoring three goals as a rookie last year, the No. 1 pick of the 2003 MLS SuperDraft has already doubled that goal production with a team-leading six tallies this season. A natural finisher with rare goal-scoring instincts in the box, Eskandarian has shown a knack for being in the right place at the right time in front of goal. The 2002 Hermann Trophy winner as the top player in collegiate soccer with the University of Virginia, Eskandarian has also starred on several U.S. youth national teams.
Pat Noonan (23yrs - New England Revolution) - Now in his second season, Noonan has established himself as a forward for the Revolution, leading the club with a team high five goals and three assists (13 points). His skill on the ball and opportunism in front of goal have made him a goal-scoring threat in MLS. A midfielder at Indiana University, Noonan kicked off his MLS career at midfield and after moving to forward due to other injuries, he cemented his position scoring 10 regular season goals and two more in the playoffs. The 2003 Rookie of the Year candidate has earned a place in the U.S. National Team player pool and earned his first international cap on March 13 vs. Haiti.
Ben Olsen (27yrs - D.C. United) - The heart and soul of D.C. United, Olsen is in his seventh season with the club, which he joined in 1998 when he took the League by storm, capturing Rookie of the Year honors. His years of spirited midfield displays with D.C. United have been marked by championships, including MLS Cup 1999 where Olsen was MVP, and long-term injuries which cost him most of 2000 and all of 2001. The 2000 Olympian and U.S. international, Olsen now operates as a central midfield for United after years of running rampant up and down the right flank. This year marks his fourth career All-Star selection with previous appearances in 1998 and 1999 (did not play in 2001 due to injury).
WEST RESERVE PLAYER BIOS
Danny Califf (24yrs - Los Angeles Galaxy) - Injuries have not only limited the U.S. National Team defender's minutes in 2004 (seven games) but they will also prevent him from participating in the 2004 All-Star Game, one year after making his first appearance in the event. After recovering from a severely sprained right MCL earlier in the campaign, Califf returned for two matches but will now be out indefinitely following July 1 surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. Although the 2004 season has been a trying one for Califf, the 24-year-old remains one of the League's outstanding defenders in his fifth season. The No. 6 overall selection in the 2000 MLS SuperDraft, the 2000 Olympian has become a fixture for club (97 career matches) and country (12 caps). Since coming on strong in his rookie season, the strong and physical defender has anchored his club's back line in its recent championship conquests.
Jimmy Conrad (27yrs - Kansas City Wizards) - An established and experienced MLS defender, Conrad has played the best soccer of his career since moving to the Wizards in a trade before the 2003 season. Since arriving in Kansas City after four seasons in San Jose where he won an MLS Cup championship in 2001, Conrad has started every regular season game, including 16 this year. A force in the aerial game, an expert tackler and fierce one-on-one marker, the UCLA graduate is also a personality in the locker room, the source of some of his best content for his weekly online column.
Kevin Hartman (30yrs - Los Angeles Galaxy) - The goalkeeper of the MLS club with the League's best record is elected to his third All-Star Game after starting in the 2003 edition at The Home Depot Center. Hartman, who thus far leads all goalkeepers with nine victories, has been a stalwart for the Galaxy in his eight seasons with the club since joining the team in 1997. Among the all-time League leaders in several goalkeeping categories, the 1999 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year has been in the nets for the squad for every one of the team's championship conquests. A member of the U.S. National Team player pool, "El Gato" Hartman continues to uphold his reputation with clutch saves, consistency and sharp decision-making on his way to further adding to what has been a standout professional career.
Jovan Kirovski (28yrs - Los Angeles Galaxy) - After spending the first part of his professional career with some of the elite clubs in Europe since 1992, Kirovski has returned stateside and immediately earned All-Star status in his first season in MLS. Already establishing himself as one of the League's top scorers (six goals and one assist), Kirovski has exhibited versatility based on his strong technique and finishing abilities which allow him to range across the entire attacking front. Along with his international club resume which includes stints with world powers Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund, the California native has been a member of the U.S. National Team since 1994, compiling 62 career international appearances in a variety of prestigious competitions including World Cup Qualifying, the Copa America and the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Chris Klein (28yrs - Kansas City Wizards) - One of the most dominant and complete wingers in MLS history, Klein will be making his second All-Star appearance after registering two assists in the 2002 event. Now in his seventh MLS season, all spent with Kansas City, Klein is a force on both sides of the ball and he has been a frequent call-up for the U.S. squad with 16 career appearances and three goals since the 2000 season. Winner of an MLS Cup championship with the Wizards in 2000, Klein is a physical specimen, making no fewer than 23 starts in each of his last five seasons on both left and right flanks. His powerful runs and equally strong long-distance drives are among the most well-known attributes of one of the game's complete players.
Jason Kreis (31yrs - Dallas Burn) - MLS' recently crowned all-time goal-scoring king will make his seventh MLS All-Star Game as a Commissioner's selection (did not play in 2001 and 2003 due to injury). An original member of the Dallas Burn in his ninth season, Kreis eclipsed ex-MLS forward Roy Lassiter on June 26 to become MLS' all-time leader in goals scored, a title which marks the peak of a career dedicated to his club. The 1999 Honda MVP, respected for his professionalism and renowned for his blistering free kicks, has led his team in scoring in five of the previous eight seasons and currently has a team-high four goals in the 2004 campaign.
Josh Wolff (27yrs - Kansas City Wizards) - In his first injury-free season in several years, the Wizards forward is selected to his second All-Star Game (elected in 2002 but did not play due to injury) as he experiences his most productive campaign with five goals and five assists in 14 games. Wolff, renowned for his speed and abilities in one-on-one battles spent five years with the Chicago Fire before moving to the Wizards in a trade at the start of the 2003 season. One of the most promising talents to emerge from the Nike Project-40 program in 1998 when he scored eight goals in his rookie season, the 2000 Olympian and veteran of the 2002 World Cup is a regular call-up to the U.S. National Team.
Kerry Zavagnin (30yrs - Kansas City Wizards) - The omnipresent Wizards central midfielder earns his first career MLS selection as he enters his fifth season with Kansas City. After two years of spot duty with the MetroStars in 1997-'98, Zavagnin moved to the A-League (Lehigh) before returning to MLS in 2000, where he was a midfield cog in the Wizards' dominant MLS Cup championship run. A constant in the Kansas City lineup with no fewer than 27 starts in his four seasons in Kansas City, Zavagnin continues to receive national recognition in the latter stages of his career. The All-Star recognition comes at a time when the Michigan native has broken through with the U.S. National Team, earning four of his six caps in 2004, including starting in the 1-1 tie against Poland on Sunday in Chicago.