CARSON, CA - Three members of the MLS Western-Conference leading Los Angeles Galaxy will be in the starting lineup for the 2004 Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game, it was announced today by Major League Soccer. The League's ninth annual mid-summer showcase will be played on Saturday, July 31 at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C at 11 am (PT) and will be televised live on ABC Sports.
"We are very proud to have Chris, Andreas and Carlos voted as starters in this year's All-Star Game," said Galaxy President and General Manager Doug Hamilton. "It is an honor which all three players have earned through their play this season."
Defender Chris Albright, midfielder Andreas Herzog and forward Carlos Ruiz will all start for the Western Conference team, which is being guided by Galaxy Head Coach Sigi Schmid and his assistants Martin Vasquez and Zak Abdel.
"The fact that we have three starters in this year's All-Star Game demonstrates how well we have played so far in 2004," said Schmid." Each of them should be proud of their individual performances as well as our team accomplishments."
Albright, 25, will be making his first appearance in an MLS All-Star Game. The sixth-year player has appeared in 113 career MLS regular season matches - making 86 starts. He was acquired by the Galaxy from D.C. United in exchange for two draft picks prior to the 2002 season and was a member of the Galaxy's MLS Cup-winning team during that year.
After beginning his career as a forward, he made the switch the backline prior to the 2004 season and has had a career-year - his six assists so far are not only a career-high but also tie him for the best in MLS. He has appeared in 15 games for the Galaxy in 2004 - all starts - and has played 1349 minutes.
"It's a privilege to be named to my first MLS all-star team. To be selected by my fellow players, coaches and fans is certainly an honor," said Albright. "I've enjoyed learning a new position with the Galaxy this year, and while I still feel like I can improve, being named an MLS All-Star means I'm headed in the right direction."
Herzog, a former Austrian International, joined the Galaxy as a Discovery Player prior to the 2004 campaign after playing for several years in the German and Austrian Bundesligas, most recently with Rapid Vienna (AUT).
The playmaking midfielder has taken the League by storm in his first season, scoring four goals and adding five assists for a total of 13 points, tying him for ninth in MLS. Those numbers make him one of four players on the Galaxy in the top ten. Additionally, the veteran workhorse has started each of the Galaxy's 16 matches.
"It is an honor for me to be named an All-Star starter in my first season in the League," said Herzog. "We have done a lot as a team in our first 16 games and hope to see that success continue."
Ruiz is a 24-year-old Guatemalan International in his third season in Major League Soccer and with the Galaxy. He presently leads MLS in scoring, amassing eight goals and two assists for 18 points in 2004, despite playing in only ten matches due to an injury and call-ups to his country's national team. He was also named MLS Player of the Month in April 2004 after scoring five goals and contributing an assist.
The three-time all-star was named MVP of last year's game after scoring a spectacular header in MLS' 3-1 defeat of Mexican club CD Guadalajara at The Home Depot Center.
The 2002 Honda MLS Most Valuable Player is the only player in history to lead MLS in goals scored in each of his first two seasons in the league - scoring 24 in his rookie campaign before adding 15 markers a year ago. In addition, he scored the only goal - in overtime - as the Galaxy defeated the New England Revolution 1-0 on October 20, 2002 to capture the club's first MLS Cup championship.
"I am happy to once again participate in the MLS All-Star Game," said Ruiz. "It should be a great game in Washington and one I will feel very comfortable playing since the Galaxy coaching staff will also be coaching the Western Conference All-Stars."
Eight of ten MLS teams are represented in the starting lineups for the Eastern and Western Conferences, with the defending MLS Cup Champion San Jose Earthquakes (Landon Donovan, Pat Onstad, Richard Mulrooney, Brian Ching and Agoos) and runners-up Chicago Fire (Henry Ring, Damani Ralph, Chris Armas, DaMarcus Beasley, Jim Curtin) leading each conference with five representatives each. The MetroStars (Eddie Pope, Amado Guevara and Gaven) and Galaxy are next in line with three contributions to each conference, while hosts D.C. United (Jaime Moreno, Ryan Nelsen) and the Dallas Burn (Cory Gibbs, Ronnie O'Brien) also have multiple starters. The Colorado Rapids (Pablo Mastroeni) and Columbus Crew (Frankie Hejduk) round out the selections, while the Kansas City Wizards and New England Revolution await Monday's announcement of reserves to determine their team's representation.
The 22 players were elected through voting by (a) fans, (b) media, (c) players and (d) coaches and general managers with each group representing 25 percent of the final tally. Voting was managed by J. Patton Sports Marketing Inc. as independent arbiter with ballots allowing for 22 selections: two goalkeepers, eight defenders, eight midfielders and four forwards. Eddie Pope was the leading vote-getter among players, tied with Landon Donovan among coaches and GM ballots. Donovan and Pope also led the way among the soccer media while Donovan was the favorite in the fan balloting, followed by DaMarcus Beasley, Pope and Ruiz.
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.
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 go on sale tomorrow, Friday, June 18, at 10:00 a.m. ET. For Group Sales information, call D.C. United at (703) 587-5000; or go online at www.dcunited.com and at RFK Stadium advance sales during all D.C. United home games. For individual tickets call TicketMaster - (202) 432 - SEAT (metro D.C.); (410) 481 - SEAT (Baltimore & MD); (703) 573 - SEAT (Virginia); or go online at www.ticketmaster.com and at all TicketMaster outlets including HECHT's, Tower Records and at RFK Stadium.
The Los Angeles Galaxy will conclude their two-game homestand against a Western Conference rival, the Colorado Rapids on Saturday at 7 p.m. in Korean Heritage Night, presented by Korean Air, at The Home Depot Center. In addition to Korean Heritage Night festivities, the first 10,000 fans through the gates on Saturday night will receive a shoe bag, courtesy of Wells Fargo. For more information or to purchase tickets to the match, call the Galaxy toll-free at 1-877-3GALAXY.