KANSAS CITY, Kan. – With only 20 players on the MLS All-Star Game roster, two players will have to turn in full-90 efforts on Wednesday night against AS Roma (9 pm ET; ESPN & UniMas in the US; TSN & RDS in Canada).
All-Star manager Peter Vermes has already settled on one of them – and it's one of his own, Sporting Kansas City center back Aurelien Collin.
Collin brings fresh legs into the game after sitting out Sporting's 1-0 away loss to Montreal on Saturday because he was on his second yellow-card suspension of the year. But that's not the only reason for giving him the full-90 nod, Vermes told MLSsoccer.com after Tuesday's training session at Sporting Park.
“I truly don't want to put the burden on another team as well,” he said. “I know that's a really difficult part of managing the group and everybody's expectations on who's playing where. [Collin] didn't play this past weekend, so I'll give him the 90. He can handle it, and then it's just going to be which player I have to deal with now that's going to have to play the other 90, because that's going to be the difficult one.”
Collin, who will be making his second All-Star appearance and start, said he was looking forward to going the distance.
“All of these players, they have played last Saturday,” said the Frenchman, who had to leave last year's All-Star game in the 36th minute with facial fractures. “I didn't play. And the coach knows I'm very passionate about it. I'm going to give everything I have. He can trust me on this.”
Vermes' decision means that Collin and Sporting's Matt Besler, a two-time All-Star who was last selected in 2011, will be matched for a half. That could give MLS something it doesn't often have in this game: a center back tandem who've had reps - and the understanding that comes with them.
“Obviously, we have a ton of experience together,” Besler said. “But I think this game's a little different. I think we're going to really enjoy it. It's our responsibility to try and get the team organized, and we're going to take it seriously. We're going to make sure guys are in the right spots. We're trying to win.
“I don't know if I'd call it a secret weapon, because we're defenders,” he added “But it's going to be nice, having played with him. Hopefully, it will be a calming presence back there with me and him.”