NEW YORK - Major League Soccer today unveiled the 22 starters for the East and West teams for the 2004 Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game to be played on Saturday, July 31 at RFK Stadium in Washington D.C. The League's midsummer showcase will be televised nationally, live on ABC Sports beginning at 2:00 p.m. (ET).
Seven players will be making their first All-Star appearance, including 17-year old MetroStars midfielder Eddie Gaven, who becomes the youngest player ever selected to start an All-Star game. With his ninth selection, San Jose Earthquakes defender Jeff Agoos is the only player in League history to be selected to all nine midseason events, having accomplished the feat with D.C. United (1996-2000) and the Earthquakes the past four seasons. The starting 11 for each team is as follows:
Forwards: Damani Ralph, Chicago Fire; Jaime Moreno, D.C. United
Midfielders: DaMarcus Beasley, Chicago Fire; Amado Guevara, MetroStars; Chris Armas, Chicago Fire; Eddie Gaven, MetroStars
Defenders: Eddie Pope, MetroStars; Ryan Nelsen, D.C. United; Jim Curtin, Chicago Fire; Frankie Hejduk, Columbus Crew
Goalkeeper: Henry Ring, Chicago Fire
Forwards: Carlos Ruiz, Los Angeles Galaxy; Brian Ching, San Jose Earthquakes
Midfielders: Landon Donovan, San Jose Earthquakes; Andreas Herzog, Los Angeles Galaxy; Ronnie O'Brien, Dallas Burn; Richard Mulrooney, San Jose Earthquakes
Defenders: Pablo Mastroeni, Colorado Rapids; Cory Gibbs, Dallas Burn; Jeff Agoos, San Jose Earthquakes; Chris Albright, Los Angeles Galaxy
Goalkeeper: Pat Onstad, San Jose Earthquakes
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 Los Angeles Galaxy (Chris Albright, Andreas Herzog, Carlos Ruiz) 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.
Six reserve players per team, as well as the two Commissioner's picks, will be announced on Monday, July 12, and the rosters for the MLS Reunion Match featuring stars from the 1994 World Cup in a U.S. vs. the World format will follow on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week.
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. 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 Carlos Ruiz.
Following the results of the weekend's round of MLS regular season matches, Peter Nowak (D.C. United) and Sigi Schmid (Los Angeles Galaxy), head coaches of the leaders in the Eastern and Western Conferences respectively, have been selected to manage the East and West teams at the 2004 Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game on Saturday, July 31 at RFK Stadium. The ninth annual All-Star showcase will be televised live on ABC Sports from RFK Stadium beginning at 2:00 p.m. ET. Nowak and Schmid have coached against one another twice this season. D.C. United and the Galaxy tied 1-1 on April 10 at The Home Depot Center and the Galaxy defeated United at RFK Stadium by the score of 4-2 on May 19.
Prior to the July 31 East vs. West contest, MLS will honor its tradition, history and pioneers by hosting an MLS Reunion Match, which will feature players who participated in the 1994 World Cup and then went on to play in MLS. The celebration game will kick off at 12:30 p.m. ET, with two 25-minute halves divided by a 10-minute halftime, with MLS USA stars vs. MLS World heroes. The MLS-USA team will be coached by current Honduras technical director Bora Milutinovic, the only manager in FIFA World Cup history to have guided five different nations in the World Cup finals (Mexico - '86; Costa Rica - '90; USA - '94; Nigeria - '98; China - '02). The MLS-World squad will be coached by former D.C. United and current U.S. National Team Manager Bruce Arena.
"Major League Soccer is a legacy of the 1994 World Cup, which remains the most successful FIFA event in history," said Garber on June 17, when the 2004 format was announced. "Our July 31 event in the nation's capital will allow us to pay tribute to the landmark achievements for the sport of soccer during the last 10 years. Our League is built upon the efforts and trailblazing spirit of that event and those who played in MLS during the early years, starting the modern soccer boom in the U.S. We will also honor America's soccer future, the youth players of today, throughout the weekend."
During the live telecast of the 2004 Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game on ABC, Sierra Mist will award one lucky viewer a spot as a contestant in the Pepsi "Play For A Billion" Sweepstakes. The winning sweepstakes code will be announced live during the Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game and the person with the winning number will travel to Los Angeles, Calif. in September to appear on the televised one-hour prime-time special and compete for a chance to win the $1 billion prize. One of the "Play For A Billion" contestants is guaranteed to win $1 million.
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.
Soccer fans in the nation's capital have proven to be some of the country's most loyal as shown by United's average attendance over the club's nine-year history which has been greater than 15,000 since the League's inception. United's average home attendance of 19,191 after six games in the 2004 regular season ranks second in the League. The fans turned out in large numbers once again on Aug. 3, 2002 as 31,096 braved violent thunderstorms at the 2002 All-Star Game in which the MLS All-Stars defeated the U.S. National Team 3-2. RFK Stadium, also host of the 1997 and 2000 MLS Cup championship finals, is home to D.C.'s passionate and knowledgeable supporters clubs including the Screaming Eagles and Barra Brava, which have repeatedly given United one of the most intimidating home-field advantages in MLS.