SANDY, Utah — Real Salt Lake general manager Garth Lagerwey said he believes it is no coincidence that his club’s two 2011 All-Star selections are fewer than what the club has grown accustomed to in recent years.
On Monday, All-Star head coach Hans Backe named reigning MLS Defender of the Year Jámison Olave and RSL captain Kyle Beckerman to his game-day squad to face Manchester United on July 27. RSL did not have any players named among the fan vote or Commissioner's picks.
Last year, the CONCACAF Champions League finalists sent Javier Morales, Nick Rimando and Olave to Houston. Beckerman earned a First XI selection, but stayed behind because of a foot injury.
“We’ve had more All-Stars each of those last two years,” Lagerwey said, “and I think some of that’s due to our struggles over the last two months. We’ve got to take responsibility for that. Through group success will come individual recognition.”
One player that Lagerwey said has played well enough to earn an All-Star bid is striker Fabián Espíndola. The Argentine has had a breakout season this year, registering six goals and an assist on the season, including a recent hot streak in which he’s scored five goals in the past seven matches. However, the recent success apparently didn’t catch the eye of the fans nor Backe.
“Fabi has had an awesome year,” Lagerwey said. “He’s been fantastic. He’s taken on a bigger role than we’ve asked him to. He’s kept us afloat offensively for the better part of the last two months, so I can’t say enough about the year that he’s had.”
However, Lagerwey isn’t necessarily surprised that he didn't get the nod.
“Foreign players almost always get awarded a year late,” explained Lagerwey. “We saw this with Javier Morales going back a few years. If you have a good season front-to-back as a foreign player, it tends to be the next season that you are awarded.
“We love him, and he’s done everything that we’ve asked. His continued leadership and maturity is probably as important as his good play to the success of our team. And I’m so, so impressed with Fabián and what he’s brought to the group this year.”