Online All-Star ballot to close Friday

selected by fans (25 percent), general managers (25 percent), players (25 percent) and media (25 percent) -- will take on English Premier League club Fulham FC on July 30 (3 p.m. ET, ABC) at Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.

At the forward position, there's a battle at the top, where FC Dallas strikers Eddie Johnson (23 percent of all ballots) and Carlos Ruiz (19.6 percent) are fighting off challenges from New England Revolution forwards Taylor Twellman (17.6 percent) and Pat Noonan (13.9 percent). While finishing in the top two doesn't guarantee a starting spot in Columbus, all four would surely appreciate a last-minute surge in the fan balloting before the remainder of the vote is factored in.

In the midfield, the Los Angeles Galaxy's Landon Donovan (39.3 percent), the Revs' Clint Dempsey (27.8 percent) and D.C. United's Freddy Adu (21.4 percent) are all in very good positions. Meanwhile, current fourth- and fifth-place players Cobi Jones (15.8 percent) of the Galaxy and Ronnie O'Brien (15.2 percent) of FC Dallas face increasing pressure from a quintet of stars, including the Amado Guevara (12.9 percent) and Eddie Gaven (12 percent) of the MetroStars, Real Salt Lake's Clint Mathis (12.5 percent), the Revolution's Steve Ralston (11.3 percent) and the Galaxy's Guillermo Ramirez (10.7 percent).

All of those players need some help to move up in the fan voting, but another player may need that assistance even more. Brad Davis of the San Jose Earthquakes (9.2 percent) leads the league in assists, but sits just behind Ramirez in the All-Star voting.

The player who appears to be most certain of earning a starting spot in Columbus is RSL defender Eddie Pope (27.3 percent). Pope appears on double the amount of ballots as second-place Frankie Hejduk (13.9 percent) of the Crew, while the Galaxy's Chris Albright (12.8 percent) currently occupies the third spot.

Behind Hejduk and Albright are a slew of defenders who all stand a chance of making it to the All-Star Game. Greg Vanney (11 percent) and his FC Dallas teammate Clarence Goodson (6.7 percent) are still in the mix, as are Revolution teammates Michael Parkhurst (9.7 percent) and Jay Heaps (7.2 percent) and RSL teammates Brian Dunseth (7.1 percent) and Rusty Pierce (7.1 percent). Rapids defender Mike Petke (10 percent) currently sits in fifth place, and the Galaxy's Tyrone Marshall (9.2 percent), the Metros' Jeff Agoos (8.5 percent), the Crew's Chad Marshall (7.1 percent), and the Kansas City Wizards' Jimmy Conrad (6.4 percent) all still have a fighting chance.

In goal, Revolution 'keeper Matt Reis (15.9 percent) continues to extend his lead ahead of Galaxy 'keeper Kevin Hartman (12.2 percent), while FCD shot-stopper Scott Garlick (11.2 percent) has drawn closer to the top two. RSL's D.J. Countess (10.2 percent) sits in fourth.

Fans can vote as many as 10 times a day from now until Friday afternoon, so get behind your favorite players and make sure they go to Columbus for this year's midsummer showcase.

Jason Halpin is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.

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