FRISCO, Texas – The players on the recently announced Fan XI for the 2013 AT&T MLS All-star Game, including FC Dallas goalkeeper Raul Fernandez, have the honor of being called All-Stars, but they don’t necessarily get a spot on MLS All-Star Coach Peter Vermes’ final game day roster. Thirty-two roster slots are available, but the final eighteen that face AS Roma in Kansas City is up to Vermes and MLS commissioner Don Garber.
Just don’t tell that to FCD coach Schellas Hyndman.
“We would hope that the fans’ voice is a little bit louder than the All-Star coach’s voice,” Hyndman told MLSsoccer.com after Friday morning’s practice. “I think he’s deserving, first of all, of being selected an All-Star player…and he’s a big part of why we have the number of points that we have this year. He’s been extremely good for FC Dallas.”
In his first season in MLS, Fernandez ranks near the top of the league in saves, shutouts and wins, despite missing multiple games due to international duty with Peru. The 27-year-old ‘keeper recently received his second MLS Save of the Week award (also voted on by fans) and says he is very appreciative of the way MLS supporters have embraced him in his first season in the league.
“I’m grateful to the fans that voted for me,” Fernandez told MLSsoccer.com through an interpreter. “It came from the fans here in Dallas and also in Peru. I’m also excited and kind of emotional to [have the chance to] represent not only my country, but also FC Dallas.”
Fernandez says he looks forward to the chance to face a team as well known around the world as Roma and that even though the game is an exhibition, he’ll be playing his hardest to justify the fans’ votes for him, if selected to the matchday 18, of course.
But the ability to fraternize with his colleagues from other teams in Major League Soccer is what makes the MLS All-Star game a unique event in world club soccer from a player’s perspective.
“It’s a great opportunity to be on the same team and spend time with the best players in the league,” said Fernandez. “That’s something that is going to help me grow not only as a player, but [on a personal level] to get to know these players and be around them and train with them and spend time with them.”