Baring a remarkable turnaround, Kasey Keller will be the fans' choice to start in goal for the MLS All-Stars against Everton of the English Premier League at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah on July 29 at 9:30 p.m.
The Seattle Sounders FC standout is comfortably ahead of Pat Onstad of the Houston Dynamo and it also appears clear that Keller will be joined by many of his Sounders teammates on the fans' First XI with eight among the leading vote-getters.
But there are some races that appear to be going down to the wire as the fan voting heads into the final two weeks. Still, the fan vote doesn't mean those players will be in the actual starting XI. That decision will be made by the coaching staff of the MLS All-Stars. The current top 11 vote-getters also do not factor in the balloting from the other three voting bodies (media, players, and coaches/GMs).
Seattle teammates Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Tyrone Marshall are neck and neck for the overall lead among defenders. Columbus Crew veteran Frankie Hejduk has been battling with Sounders FC's James Riley for the third and final spot in the back. The U.S. national team fullback holds the slight edge in that back and forth race.
The Seattle trio of Freddie Ljungberg, Osvaldo Alonso and Steve Zakuani are the frontrunners among the midfielders according to the fans, but the race for the final two spots has heated up. Seattle's Sebastien Le Toux and Guillermo Barros Schelotto from the Columbus Crew have the lead, but close behind are Brad Evans from Sounders FC, Toronto FC's Dwayne De Rosario and Cuauhtémoc Blanco of the Chicago Fire.
Fredy Montero, who struck for the equalizer in first-half stoppage time in a 1-1 draw with the New York Red Bulls on Saturday night, has the clear lead among forwards with Los Angeles Galaxy star Landon Donovan in a battle with Nate Jaqua of Sounders FC and Brian McBride of the Chicago Fire for the second forward spot.
Fans have until July 6 to vote for the All-Star First XI online by selecting one goalkeeper, three defenders, five midfielders, and two forwards. Fans can vote up to 10 times per day. The online fan balloting program will comprise 25 percent of the total vote for the All-Star First XI, with coaches and general managers, players, and media each holding 25 percent of the vote.
The game will be televised in the U.S. on ESPN2 and Telefutura.
This is the sixth consecutive year the best in MLS takes on a high-profile international opponent. Last year, Blanco, Christian Gomez and De Rosario scored in a 3-2 win against West Ham United of the English Premier League at a sold-out BMO Field in Toronto.
The MLS All-Stars have also defeated Mexican club CD Guadalajara, English opponents Fulham and Chelsea and Scottish Premier League standouts Celtic FC.
Dylan Butler is a contributor to MLSnet.com.