In just a few short days, the MLS All-Stars will be taking on English Premier League side Fulham FC in Columbus, Ohio. As opposed to years gone by, where the best from the West play the best from the East, there is only one team of MLS players being assembled this year, and that has made making the roster that much more difficult for MLS's elite.
For the Los Angeles Galaxy, two players will represent the club. It comes as no surprise that Landon Donovan made the team, seeing as he's one of the league's top attacking players and a standout with the U.S. national team.
But perhaps what is slightly surprising is the inclusion of Chris Albright into the fold. When healthy, Albright is among the best outside backs in the league. But the seven-year MLS veteran had been out with a knee injury for more than a month.
His addition to the squad as a reserve by FC Dallas coach Colin Clarke is a testament to his abilities when healthy, and it's something that Albright really appreciates.
"It's gratifying, even more so than last year because I didn't play as much," he said. "I'm just happy to be a part of it."
The Philadelphia native was a standout forward at the University of Virginia, where he garnered All-America honors. He then began his pro career in D.C. as an attacking player, but upon his move to Los Angeles, moved to the back line and has flourished ever since. His offensive flair comes in handy for Steve Sampson's Galaxy side, as the coach encourages his outside backs to join the attack on a regular basis.
His play has even piqued the interest of U.S. national team coach Bruce Arena, who called Albright into camp earlier this year. If not for an injury to his MCL, it would have been hard to imagine this year's U.S. Gold Cup roster not including the right back. That same injury also coincides with a recent slip in form for the Galaxy.
"(Albright) is someone you realize is unbelievable when he's gone, and you see what he really brings to the team with his ability to occupy the entire left side of the opposition," said Galaxy 'keeper Kevin Hartman. "When he's able to do the things he does it really is impressive. He demands a lot of the guys playing around him, and I think we get more from the guys playing that side when he's out there."
For Albright, Fulham will be the second top-quality foreign opposition that he's faced in less than a month. Just a couple weeks ago, Real Madrid came to The Home Depot Center, and Albright faced off against Roberto Carlos, a player he's admittedly idolized since making the switch to defense.
"Fulham will probably be a little more in form, so it'll probably be on a more equal level (fitness-wise)," Albrigh said. "But (Real Madrid) have a bit more talent."
Greg Daurio is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.