In a league where over 200 players take the field every weekend, it's never going to be easy to put together a 26-player All-Star roster that makes everyone happy. The list for the 2016 AT&T MLS All-Star Game, which was revealed on Sunday evening, is no different and it provoked plenty of discussion across soccer social media about who deserved to be there and who didn't.
And because there are so many differing opinions out there, we polled the MLSsoccer.com editorial staff to come up with a consensus list of the top five snubs for next week's clash with Arsenal (July 28, 7:30 pm ET; ESPN & UniMás in the US, TSN and RDS in Canada), which you can find below.
Keep in mind that six more players will be named as inactive All-Stars for a total of 32 (to be revealed on gameday), so some of these guys may end up being recognized (and even playing, if an injury replacement needs to be made) when the dust settles.
1. Diego Valeri
PORTLAND TIMBERS - MIDFIELDER
Games Played (Starts): 17 (17) | Goals: 9 | Assists: 5
This one's a tough one to fathom, considering how important Diego Valeri continues to be to the Timbers' success and his two-goal masterpiece against the Seattle Sounders on Sunday.. His absence could partially be explained by the three straight games he missed to injury to start July, likely coloring the choices of All-Star head coach Dominic Kinnear and the voters.
2. Juan Manuel Martinez
REAL SALT LAKE - FORWARD
GP (GS): 18 (16) | G: 6 | A: 2
This one can probably be explained due to the fact that Juan Manuel Martinez's basic numbers don't quite jump off the charts and, again, some patchy form on both the individual and team levels in the voting run-ins. That being said, the unpredictable, electric elements that he brings to the RSL attack has made them one of the most exciting attacking teams to watch this season, and thus he merits All-Star consideration.
3. Axel Sjoberg
COLORADO RAPIDS - DEFENDER
GP (GS): 17 (17) | G: 2 | A: 1
Colorado have the best defense in the league by a country mile and while it takes a whole team to defend, Axel Sjoberg's steady contributions on the backline – and going forward on set pieces – have put the 6'7" center back both literally and figuratively above his teammates.
4. Fanendo Adi
PORTLAND TIMBERS - FORWARD
GP (GS): 20 (18) | G: 10 | A: 2
He's now hit double-digit goals for the second straight year, but it's not just the numbers that have made Fanendo Adi a bona fide All-Star candidate. If you've watched him play for any serious period of time this year, you'll see his hold-up play has improved leaps and bounds, making the 6-foot-4 striker a complete threat up top.
5. Jelle van Damme
LA GALAXY - Defender
GP (GS): 16 (16) | G: 0 | A: 1
The big, bald Belgian Jelle van Damme has gone about his work in 2016 without much incident or fuss – not necessarily the perfect recipe for All-Star inclusion, but not that he'll mind. His aerial dominance and leadership on a backline that saw a lot of turnover early in the year have helped the Galaxy to the second-best defensive record in the league (18 goals conceded) while they are the runaway league leaders with a +14 goal differential.
Also Receiving Votes
Kellyn Acosta (M - Dallas), Tranquillo Barnetta (M - Philadelphia), Ronald Matarrita (D - NYCFC), Matt Hedges (D - Dallas), Steven Gerrard (M - LA Galaxy), Gyasi Zardes (F - LA Galaxy), RJ Allen (D - NYCFC), Sam Cronin (M - Colorado), Chris Pontius (M - Philadelphia), Tommy McNamara (M - NYCFC), Diego Chara (M - Portland Timbers), David Ousted (GK - Vancouver)