World Cup veterans, strong Atlanta contingent headline
2018 MLS All-Star Fan XI presented by Target
NEW YORK (Monday, June 25, 2018) – Five players touting FIFA World Cup experience and a bevy of young talent from host Atlanta United highlight the 2018 MLS All-Star Fan XI presented by Target, as voted by Major League Soccer fans. The MLS All-Star Team will take on Italian powerhouse Juventus in the 2018 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Wednesday, Aug. 1, at 7:30 p.m. ET, live on ESPN, UniMás, TSN and TVA Sports.
Los Angeles Football Club and Mexico National Team forward Carlos Vela, the EA SPORTS™ “More Than a Vote” Challenge winner, leads a star-studded group with World Cup experience (2010, 2018 World Cups). He is joined by LA Galaxy striker and Sweden’s all-time goal scoring leader Zlatan Ibrahimović, a former Juventus player and two-time World Cup participant (2002, 2006). Rounding out this group is LAFC and Belgium defender Laurent Ciman (2014), Sporting Kansas City and U.S. Men’s National Team player Graham Zusi (2014) and two-time U.S. MNT World Cup goalkeeper Brad Guzan (2010, 2014) of All-Star hosts Atlanta United.
Guzan also headlines six Atlanta United players voted into the Fan XI. The Eastern Conference leaders are well represented, particularly their young and dynamic attacking talent. The current frontrunner for the 2018 MLS Golden Boot, Atlanta striker Josef Martínez, leads this group as the Venezuela National Team player makes his first MLS All-Star appearance. Martínez and fellow 2017 MLS Best XI teammate Miguel Almirón earns his second straight All-Star vote. Argentine 19-year-old phenom Ezequiel Barco, six-time MLS All-Star defender Michael Parkhurst and second-time All-Star midfielder Darlington Nagbe round out the Atlanta representation.
Also voted into the MLS All-Star Fan XI is Portland Timbers midfielder and 2017 MLS Landon Donovan MLS MVP Diego Valeri, marking his fifth MLS All-Star Team selection.
While 10 of the 11 players on the Fan XI are determined by fan voting online at MLSsoccer.com and through the MLS app, the 11th player is determined through the EA SPORTS™ “More Than a Vote” Challenge. Vela took the top prize as fans scored more than two million goals for the LAFC star in EA SPORTS FIFA 18. Other players who finished in the top five of the ‘More Than a Vote’ Challenge were Ibrahimović, Giovani dos Santos (LA Galaxy), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew SC), and Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto FC).
The 2018 MLS All-Star gameday roster, consisting of 24 players, will be announced at a later date and will include the 2018 MLS All-Star Fan XI presented by Target, two Commissioner’s Picks, and 11 players selected by All-Star Head Coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino, whose Atlanta United have the most points in MLS. Martino will select the starting 11 from the 24-man MLS All-Star roster.
The 2018 MLS All-Stars will face off against Juventus, the Italian giants who won their seventh consecutive Serie A title earlier this year. Juventus is the most decorated club in Italy, winning more Serie A and Coppa Italia titles than any other Italian club. Juventus also reached the UEFA Champions League final in two of the past four years (2015, 2017). The team is managed by Massimiliano Allegri, who just completed his fourth season with the club.
Tickets to the 2018 MLS All-Star Game against Juventus are now on sale by visiting Ticketmaster.com. Tickets start as low as $35.
Video soundbytes from members of the 2018 MLS All-Star Game Fan XI may be downloaded by CLICKING HERE.
CLICK HERE for 2018 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target logos, photos and b-roll. Media planning to cover the 2018 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target may apply for credentials by CLICKING HERE. Without exception, credential applications must be received by Wednesday, July 18.
2018 MLS All-Star Fan XI presented by Target
Goalkeeper: Brad Guzan (Atlanta United)
Defenders: Michael Parkhurst (Atlanta United), Laurent Ciman (Los Angeles Football Club), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
Midfielders: Miguel Almirón (Atlanta United), Ezequiel Barco (Atlanta United), Darlington Nagbe (Atlanta United), Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers)
Forwards: Josef Martínez (Atlanta United), Zlatan Ibrahimović (LA Galaxy), Carlos Vela (Los Angeles Football Club – EA SPORTS™ “More Than a Vote” Challenge)
Bios for 2018 MLS All-Star Fan XI presented by Target
(Listed by position in a 3-4-3 formation)
Brad Guzan | Goalkeeper | Atlanta United | Nationality: USA | Born: September 9, 1984
A member of the U.S. Men’s National Team, Guzan was named to his country’s 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cup rosters, competed in the 2007 and 2015 Concacaf Gold Cups, the 2007 Copa America and the 2016 Copa America Centenario, where he was the starting goalkeeper. In his first season with Atlanta United in 2017, Guzan made 14 starts and finished with the third-best goals-against average (0.71) in the league. In addition, he also recorded the sixth-longest shutout streak in MLS at 541 minutes. Guzan was previously named to the MLS Best XI in 2007 and was the starting goalkeeper for the U.S. U-21 team in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. This is Guzan’s second MLS All-Star selection (2007, 2018).
Laurent Ciman | Defender | Los Angeles Football Club | Nationality: Belgium | Born: August 5, 1985
A member of the Belgium National Team, Ciman was a part of the squad in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. In his inaugural year in MLS, he brought Montreal to the Concacaf Champions League final and the MLS Cup Playoffs and earned Impact Defensive Player of the Year. In addition, Ciman was named to MLS Best XI in 2015 and was awarded MLS Defender of the Year. This is Ciman’s third selection to the MLS All-Star Game (2015, 2016, 2018).
Michael Parkhurst | Defender | Atlanta United | Nationality: USA | Born: January 24, 1984
The six-time MLS All-Star selection is one of the most celebrated defenders in MLS. Parkhurst has played for the U.S. Men’s National Team, earning 25 caps and winning the 2007 and 2013 Concacaf Gold Cup. He was awarded MLS Rookie of the Year in 2005, Defender of the Year in 2007, and was named to the MLS Best XI in 2007. Parkhurst became the first team captain for Atlanta United.
Graham Zusi | Defender | Sporting Kansas City | Nationality: USA | Born: August 18, 1986
The U.S. National Team defender has made 55 international appearances and was an integral player for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Zusi has excelled for Sporting Kansas City, spending the entirety of his 10-year career with the team, and has helped Sporting earn the current top spot in the Western Conference. He is second in club history with 56 assists. Zusi was also previously named to the MLS Best XI in 2012 and 2013. This is Zusi’s sixth MLS All-Star selection (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018).
Miguel Almirón | Midfielder | Atlanta United | Nationality: Paraguay | Born: February 10, 1994
A member of the Paraguay National Team, Almirón starred for his country in the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup before breaking out in 2016 at the Copa America Centenario. The 24-year-old had an impressive first season, recording nine goals and 14 assists. On the 2018 season, he currently has six goals and seven assists. He was named the 2017 MLS Newcomer of the Year, was ranked No. 1 in the 2017 MLS 24 Under 24 list, was named to the 2017 MLS Best XI and was a finalist for 2017 Most Valuable Player. This is Almirón’s second MLS All-Star selection (2017, 2018).
Ezequiel Barco | Midfielder | Atlanta United | Nationality: Argentina | Born: March 29, 1999
The Argentina youth star, despite an early-season injury, has showcased his talent to the tune of three goals and an assist since early May to lead the club to first place in the Eastern Conference. He has played for Argentina’s U-20 National team and made eight appearances. Before playing for Atlanta this season, Barco played for Independiente, and made appearances in Copa Sudamericana and Copa Argentina. This is Barco’s first MLS All-Star selection.
Darlington Nagbe | Midfielder | Atlanta United | Nationality: USA/Liberia | Born: July 19, 1990
A midfielder for the U.S. Men’s National Team, Nagbe is known as one of the top possession players in MLS, making 231 career appearances and 220 starts. In the 2017 season, he led MLS in passing accuracy (92%). Nagbe recently played in the 2018 World Cup qualifying matches. This is Nagbe’s second MLS All-Star selection (2016, 2018).
Diego Valeri | Midfielder | Portland Timbers | Nationality: Argentina | Born: May 1, 1986
The 2017 Landon Donovan MLS MVP, Valeri finished last season with 21 goals and 22 assists and has starred for the Portland Timbers in all six years in the league, winning the Golden Boot in 2013, his first year with Portland. Valeri, who has made three appearances for the Argentina National Team, holds the record for the fastest goal in MLS Cup history and was previously named to the MLS Best XI in 2013, 2014 and 2017.
Josef Martínez | Forward | Atlanta United | Nationality: Venezuela | Born: May 19, 1993
The top goal scorer in MLS for the 2018 season, Josef Martínez, had a wondrous first season in 2017 with recording 19 goals – the most ever by a player on an expansion team. In 2018, Martinez has scored a league-leading 14 goals. The 24-year-old was awarded both MLS Player of the Month and MLS Player of the Week two times in 2018. Martinez is a member of the Venezuela Men’s National Team in which he has been capped 42 times. This is Martínez’s first MLS All-Star appearance selection.
Zlatan Ibrahimović | Forward | LA Galaxy | Nationality: Sweden | Born: October 3, 1981
Signing with the Galaxy earlier this year, Ibrahimović stormed into the league with two late goals during his LA Galaxy debut on March 31. For 2018, he has tallied seven goals and three assists in 11 games played. The former Juventus player is Sweden’s all-time leading goal scorer with 62 goals in 116 games. Ibrahimović has played in two FIFA World Cups (2002, 2006). This is Ibrahimović’s first MLS All-Star Game selection.
Carlos Vela | Forward | Los Angeles Football Club | Nationality: Mexico | Born: March 1, 1989
A crucial member of the Mexico National Team, Vela has played in two World Cups (2010, 2018) and has won the Concacaf Gold Cup on two occasions. Before coming to LAFC, Vela played for such teams as Arsenal, Salamanca, Osasuna and Real Sociedad. He earned the Real Sociedad Player of the Year in 2011-12 and 2013-14. Now playing for LAFC, Vela has a team-leading seven goals and five assists. Vela has earned his first MLS All-Star selection.