CARSON, CA - MAY 08: Brad Davis #11 of Houston Dynamo celebrates after scoring a goal against Chivas USA during the first half of the MLS soccer game on May 8, 2010 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

MLS All-Star Game 2011: Previewing The Players

A quick look at most of the players who were named to the MLS All-Star team.

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MLS All-Star Game 2011: Revolution, Timbers, Union All Have One Rep

FC Dallas

Brek Shea is Dallas' lone All-Star representative as FCD will be traveling to El Salvador on Tuesday to face off against Alianza in their first leg CONCACAF Champions League qualifier. Shea has been a revelation for Dallas this season with nine goals in 21 games, all the more impressive considering he spent the first four games of the season at central defense. The Texas native has an MLS-leading 5 game winning goals and has been carrying the FCD offense without David Ferreira.

Daniel Robertson, Big D Soccer

New England Revolution

Shalrie Joseph will be the lone representative from the New England Revolution in this exhibition, without much surprise, and will bring along with him not only many years of experience in MLS, but also 3 years of experience in the MLS All-Star game itself as well as playing experience against Manchester United from the very beginning of their 2011 US summer tour. Careful play construction and smart choices will be his strengths in this match and hopefully the Rev skipper will get his hands in some action in the attacking third, too. 

Corey Major, The Bent Musket

Portland Timbers

Jewsbury is a great midfielder. He's solid, he's been consistent, and he's a great set piece/corner kick taker. I haven't seen every team play this year, but I'd be surprised if he wasn't in the top 5 for set piece distribution accuracy. He hasn't been perfect for the Timbers, but I'd say were the team to not have him in the squad right now the season would have gone far worse. For this reason, his inclusion into the All Star squad is no surprise and I applaud him for that. But, despite all this, we can't expect him to perform in the same way as he does with the Timbers, it's not going to happen.

Geoff Gibson, Stumptown Footy

Philadelphia Union

Faryd Mondragon made the 2011 MLS All Star team not because of spectacular saves or being the league's best goalkeeper. Rather it is the former Colombian international's ability to organize the defenders in front of him that has placed him among the top MLS goalkeepers. The Philadelphia Union have conceded only 16 goals this year, a drastic change from last season's porous defense and Mondragon, along with his compatriot Carlos Valdes, has been the root of that facelift. At 40-years-old, Mondragon isn't the most nimble of players, but a goalkeeper with his positioning and organizational skills doesn't need to be.  

Scott Kessler, Brotherly Game


MLS All-Star Game 2011: Red Bulls Will Play A Large Part

Hans Backe, manager of the 2011 MLS All-Stars, will have three players from his New York Red Bulls on the pitch against Manchester United. Young USA internationals Tim Ream and Juan Agudelo are joined by former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry, who will be looking to score against United yet again.

Tim Ream was an integral piece of a Red Bulls defense that was among the best in MLS last season, and while New York have been shipping goals at an amazing rate this year, his individual performances have been fairly good. A good ball-playing left-footed centerback who can anticipate attacks and make good tackles, the main piece missing his game is on the attacking end: like most of the Red Bulls team, he doesn't provide much from set-pieces.

Many Red Bulls fans (myself included) had very high expectations for Juan Agudelo at the beginning of this season. It seems now that they were probably too high, and as Agudelo has gotten more playing time, more of his inadequacies have become apparent. While he has good individual skills and is one of few Red Bulls players who can score from headers, the American starlet tends to make poor choices, go for the spectacular too often, and dribble down dead ends. He may get on SportsCenter's Top 10 by scoring a spectacular goal in the All-Star Game, but Red Bulls fans will probably remember his performances this season for the expletives they shout whenever he runs into three defenders and loses the ball instead of passing.

Anyone who has paid even a small bit of attention to European football in the last ten years knows plenty about Thierry Henry, but many of the South Ward faithful were more than a bit skeptical about his commitment to the Red Bulls after a poor opening season and an even worse start to this campaign. However, since scoring late against San Jose back in April after missing a hatful of chances earlier in that game, Henry has been on a tear. He leads the Golden Boot race with 11 goals, and has used his full set of skills to score, with clinical penalty area finishes, a few poacher's goals, some brilliant distance strikes, and even a couple of headed goals. As always, he tends to drift in and out of games, a tendency for which he has received criticism, but his goal return and overall play have been excellent and Henry will likely be a major contender for league MVP come the end of the season.   

Ben Schneider, Once a Metro


MLS All-Star Game 2011: Earthquakes Send Pair Of Reborn Stars

Chris Wondolowski: After rising from the anonymity deservedly bestowed upon a player who tallied a total of 7 goals in his first five MLS seasons, Chris Wondolowski burst into the public consciousness with a stunning 18 goal campaign last season that saw him collect the MLS Golden Boot. Narrowing missing out to FC Dallas midfielder David Ferreira on being named MLS MVP, Wondolowski capped off his remarkable year by scoring the last 10 goals for the Earthquakes and leading his team into the postseason. In the first round of the MLS Cup playoffs, he scored the aggregate series winner against New York in a 3-1 victory at Red Bull Arena. His selection as a forward to the MLS All-Star game First XI as voted on by the public - the first invite of his career - comes as Wondolowski again leads his team in scoring with 8 goals and recently completed a spell with the U.S. National Team at the 2011 Gold Cup.

Bobby Convey: Only 28 years old, Bobby Convey started his MLS career in 2000 with DC United before spending five seasons with Reading FC in the top two tiers of English football. Upon his return to MLS in 2009, Convey has become a fixture for the Earthquakes on the left side, splitting his time between the wing and the outside back position. A solid 2010 season, which saw Convey score 1 goal and tally 10 assists, earned the Philadelphia native the MLS Comeback Player of the Year award. His selection as a defender by coach Hans Backe to the All-Star roster marks the fourth time he as been selected to play in the MLS summer classic, and is the second straight season the Earthquakes highest priced player has made the team. In last season's first round playoff series against New York, Convey had his most complete game of his Earthquakes tenure, notching two goals in the second leg at Red Bull Arena as San Jose advanced to the Eastern Conference Final.    

Robert Jonas, Quake, Rattle & Goal


MLS All-Star Game 2011: Dynamo Well Represented

The Houston Dynamo got four players on the 2011 MLS All-Star roster...I'm not completely sure how. Brad Davis deserves to be there, much like he deserves attention from Bob Bradley for the national team. Davis has been one of the few offensive bright spots for Houston, leading both the team and all of MLS with 9 assist and it's great to see him get the laurels his play deserves. Tally Hall certainly deserves his spot as well, in his first season as the Dynamo's first choice goalkeeper, Hall has been outstanding saving the team's bacon on multiple occasions and helping them steal points in several games where they likely deserved less.

Then there's Corey Ashe and Geoff Cameron. Nothing against either player but why are they on the All-Star team? Cameron is having a mediocre season at best playing out of position and Ashe is having a decent season playing out of position. If you wanted a defender from Houston, why not Andre Hainault who is clearly the team's best defender and is having an outstanding year. In all honesty, with the problems the Dynamo are having, the idea of four starters being gone for a pointless mid-week exhibition ahead of an absolute must win game is nothing to be excited about.    

Zach Woosley, Dynamo Theory


MLS All-Star Game 2011: Kasey Keller Will Be There, Osvaldo Alonso Won't

Kasey Keller: He may be aging, but he is the face of US Soccer for a generation and so there is little surprise that he was elected to the First XI. While he may not get the reflex saves that he once did he still has the leadership and experience to be a top 5 keeper in the League. Keller also managed to strong-arm the league back onto the active roster and will fly into the game from the match in Panama the day before the All-Star Game. Keller has a 0.95 Goals Against Average with a 72.8 Save Percentage. 

Osvaldo Alonso: He wants the ball back, and he don't care who has it. Affectionately nicknamed the Honey Badger out in Seattle he is one of the best ball winners MLS has seen over the past three seasons. The Cuban political refugee also adds the threat of a long range shot to the Sounders arsenal and is becoming a much better passer. He is one of the Inactive All-Stars. Alonso has 3 Goals and 2 Assists in 21 Appearances, all starts.    

Dave Clark, Sounder at Heart


MLS All-Star Game 2011: Heath Pearce, Nick LaBrocca Heading To NY

When Nick LaBrocca was obtained in a trade for Alan Gordon from Toronto FC in March, few expected more than a squad player. But he took an opportunity to restart his career on a rebuilding team with a new coach, has been involved in one-third of the team's goals to this point, and provides some grit in the midfield as well. His rise this season has been surprising, but LaBrocca deserves the plaudits he's receiving with an MLS all-star selection.

Heath Pearce was traded to Chivas USA from FC Dallas in the offseason, and the plans had a new backline being created around him and Jimmy Conrad. But with Conrad going down with a concussion in the second game of the season, Pearce has picked up the slack and rejuvenated Chivas' defense. Moving from right back to central defense, even though he's never played the position, Pearce has proved to be a steady presence for a young team. He may be under the league's radar, but Pearce's MLS all-star selection is much deserved.

Alicia Ratterree, The Goat Parade


MLS All-Star Game 2011: David Beckham Repping For LA Galaxy

The story for the LA Galaxy players left in the MLS All-Star game is the one you'd expect for a team formed at midseason: fitness. While David Beckham is scheduled to be in New York, speaking on behalf of MLS with the former team angle, many of the other LA players are staying away. Landon Donovan suffered a right calf injury in practice, and will not be in the gameday lineup, and Omar Gonzalez suffered a fractured nose in practice so will also be out. Sean Franklin made the gameday roster, he's a great left or right back (he's flipped many times) who is capable of running up the sideline to participate in the offensive attack.

Josie Becker, LAG Confidential


MLS All-Star Game 2011: Quick Look At Real Salt Lake's Entrants

Real Salt Lake will be sending two players to the All-Star match this week, first up is RSL's captain Kyle Beckerman.  
Kyle is the cornerstone of Real Salt Lake's team is the star mentality, he has taken control of the team as their captain, and in matches he imposes his control with his no holds barred approach to the game.  He isn't the biggest, or the fastest, but he is one of the best soccer minds that play central defense in Major League Soccer, he understands his role in being the stop gap used to disrupt opposing teams from being able to go on offense and then being able to quickly change roles and become an offensive threat via his passes and ability to create for others, he has 5 assists so far this year.  He also has been known to take a shot or two and so far this year he has found the back of the net twice, but it is his ability to simply be a disruptive force in the midfield that has made him one of the very best defensive midfielders in the league today.

Kyle will be joined in New York by Jamison Olave, the 2010 defensive player of the year and one of the stalwarts of the RSL defense.  Most people have a hard time seeing past his physical presence and for a player who is about 6'2 and 220 lbs it is easy to understand why, but what is lost is the fact that Olave is probably one of the 10 fastest players in MLS and that speed makes him a very dangerous player.  The ability to move forward on set pieces and still be able to get back to break up counter attacks, makes him double dangerous he already has 2 goals and 1 assist this year and the RSL defense has allowed just 12 goals in 18 matches.  While he is only in his 4th season with Major League Soccer he is quickly becoming the standard by which other center backs are measured.

Denzel Eslinger, RSL Soapbox


MLS All-Star Game 2011: Manchester United Playing To Win

Despite this being pre-season for Manchester United, and also despite their 5-2 victory over last year's MLS All-Star squad, manager Sir Alex Ferguson has stated during this United States tour that his side "can't go into any game not wanting to win." The genuineness of the United's boss intent can be debated but he surely will be aware that prior to last year, the MLS has been victorious in the previous five All-Star matches in the current format - including versus Chelsea FC in 2006. Projecting a Ferguson lineup is an arduous exercise during regular competition, therefore, this occasion makes it that much more difficult. However, it can be reasonably expected that the legendary manager will field a lineup that is close to first-choice. Over the first two weeks of the tour, United have shown signs of gaining both form and fitness - and perhaps more importantly, no major injuries have caused hindrance. In addition, Mexican sensation Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez is due to join the club this week in New Jersey after being awarded additional rest after his national team duties. 

During United's first three friendlies on this tour versus MLS sides, there has been no tactical experimentation - Ferguson has deployed a generic 4-4-2 shape in each match. However, with the possibility that Hans Backe, the New York Red Bulls coach who will be in charge of the MLS All-Star side on Wednesday night, will field a 4-3-3 shape, it's possible that the United gaffer experiments tactically. United are a side that is versatile and fluid with their formations on a match-to-match basis, therefore, this could prove an opportune time to play in a 4-3-3 shape. With a friendly looming versus FC Barcelona on Saturday, which is a re-match of this past May's UEFA Champions League final, it is possible that manager targets this week to get some training done with a three-man central midfield. United will certainly approach this All-Star game as their sternest test yet and perhaps the step-up in quality opposition will rev up the competitive juices of the English champions. 

Projected XI: David de Gea; Rafael, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra; Nani, Michael Carrick, Ryan Giggs, Ashley Young; Wayne Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov

Gene Um, The Busby Babe


MLS All-Star Game 2011: Previewing The Players

The MLS All-Star Game is a lot of things, but one of them should not be a measuring stick against some of the best things in the world. This is an exhibition game, pure and simple and making it out to be more than it is seems rather silly.

Realizing that most of the players in this game aren't exactly household names, and with the idea of making the exhibition a little easier to follow, we asked the various editors from around SB Nation to give us a few words on their players. Not every player is covered, necessarily (Matt Besler, I hope you'll forgive us) but this should at least give you a crash course. We'll also have a short blurb on Manchester United, provided by The Busby Babe

Just another reminder, the game kicks off at 5:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN2, Galavision and TSN. You can even get tickets here.

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