FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – New England defender Kevin Alston couldn't contain his joy after hearing he had sealed a trip to Houston as one of the Revolution's two representatives in next Wednesday's MLS All-Star Game against English giants Manchester United.
“I'm excited,” Alston told MLSsoccer.com on Monday. “When you hear that you're being called up to play with a team of players like that and play against Manchester United, it's an honor and a blessing. I'm excited about it and I'm looking forward to it.”
The second-year defender earned his spot among the best in MLS after impressing observers around the league with his dogged displays since emerging as the Revolution's starting right back last season.
Despite Alston's early success and recognition as one of the league's best defenders, the former Indiana University star still has room for improvement, according to Revolution boss Steve Nicol.
“Defensively, he's been solid and sound,” Nicol said. “One-on-one, he's absolutely [done the job]. He's deserved his pick, but he still needs to get better. There are a lot of things he needs to get better at, but he's certainly got a great foundation.”
While Alston plans to make his first appearance in the All-Star Game, Revolution captain Shalrie Joseph plots his seventh consecutive selection to the midsummer showcase. The 2009 MLS MVP finalist made the list as a reserve alongside Alston despite playing just seven MLS matches this season.
“Yeah, it definitely feels sweet,” Joseph said. “I haven’t played a lot of games this season and to be picked for the All-Star team is one of those special feelings. You never get sick of it. It just shows the hard work that you do personally, and to me it feels good.”
Joseph has played against several prominent clubs during his years as an All-Star, but he said that he felt honored to have the opportunity to play against Manchester United.
“Just playing them, you know the name,” Joseph said. “Everybody growing up as a kid watched them play. It’s such a huge club and, to play against these guys, it’s an honor for me.”