The 2013 MLS All-Star roster is out, but is it cast in stone?
Hardly. Between Gold Cup duty and injuries, the team announced Monday by manager Peter Vermes could change significantly before the match against AS Roma on July 31 at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan.
And yes, that could mean a nod for Philadelphia's Jack McInerney, who was the only double-digit goalscorer left off the 20-man roster. (San Jose forward Chris Wondolowski, whose five goals in Gold Cup play for the US national team are as many as he has scored in MLS all season, was among those selected by fans.)
“[McInerney] has had a tremendous year thus far,” Vermes, Sporting Kansas City's manager and technical director, said on a conference call Monday afternoon. “Obviously, he's a young guy and for some of the other guys the consistency has been there. I applaud his performance thus far this season. He's had a breakout year. I'm sure that if he continues on this way, he'll have opportunities. He's someone that I would say is in the mix at this moment, as far as the mix of alternates, that I'd look at for sure if Robbie Keane could not make the trip.”
Keane came out with an apparent injury in the 79th minute of LA's 2-1 loss at Portland on Saturday, and results of a planned scan have not yet been announced.
Five selections – Wondolowski, goalkeeper Nick Rimando, defender Tony Beltran and midfielder Kyle Beckerman of Real Salt Lake, and Houston defender Corey Ashe – are all part of a US side with aspirations of winning the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Should the Americans reach the final on July 28, that could leave the four needing a break before returning to their respective clubs for the resumption of league play.
“I think it's like anything,” Vermes said. “A coach always has to have a Plan B, a Plan C. And we have that. We have quite a few guys in the pool that we've talked about, and I feel they'd be great additions as well. We'll just have to monitor that situation as it unfolds, but as of right now this is the 20-man roster, and we'll deal with anything that happens on a case-by-case basis.”
Vermes – who chose all but three of the players on the 20-man roster – said the Fan XI voting gave him a good head start toward picking his team.
“The league does a great job of giving the fans lots of ways to be involved in selecting the players for this game, as they should,” he said. “The game is a celebration of the fans. The Fan XI provided me with a starting point for this squad, for this team, and I wanted as much as possible to honor the fan's wishes to see certain players in this high-profile game. I think it would have been pretty disrespectful on my part if I didn't honor and respect the decisions that they made.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.