When Revolution manager Steve Nicol switched Steve Ralston from his long-entrenched right midfield slot to a right back role just under a month ago, the All-Star Game was a distant possibility in the seemingly far-away land of midfield.
With injuries and transfers, four spots opened in Peter Nowak's Eastern Conference All-Star squad, and the first-year coach plumped for the experience of Ralston, choosing the newly minted right back to play alongside fellow Revs Clint Dempsey (broken jaw - will not play), Pat Noonan, and fellow late addition Shalrie Joseph for his East All-Star squad on Saturday at RFK Stadium.
Ralston made light of his newfound versatility and its impact on his selection to the midsummer classic.
"I probably made it as a utility player," said Ralston. "I'm happy I'm going. I'll play any position, just as long as I get a chance to play. I was a little surprised."
This year's selection marks the fourth selection for the Revolution star, the league's Rookie of the Year in 1996. Ralston admits that the experience of featuring in previous years makes this selection even more alluring.
"From my previous experiences in All-Star Games, I'm really looking forward to it," said Ralston.
The inclusion of Nowak as the Eastern Conference head coach adds a measure of respect for Ralston, as he admits that Nowak was one of his favorite players to watch.
"He was one of my favorite players to watch," said Ralston. "I'm not trying to get brownie points. I liked his style. He always loved to dribble and go at people, and I think that's what I like to do as well."
Ralston believes that his shift to right back can benefit the Revolution during the second half, despite the need for a career midfielder to adjust to more defensive responsibilities.
"[The shift to right back] has been a big change for me," said Ralston. "Nothing is set in stone. I am just trying to the best I can do for the team."
Kyle McCarthy is a contibutor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.