The 2012 MLS All-Star Game will see the best from MLS square off against Chelsea at PPL Park on July 25 and now we know who those MLS best are, or at least who the fans think the best are. MLS has announced their first XI for the match and it is filled with many of the league's stars.
The first XI for the MLS team is as follows:
Goalkeeper: Jimmy Nielsen (Sporting Kansas City).
Forwards: Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes).
Amazingly, this team actually looks somewhat like a team. They can play a 4-4-2 and not have a slew of players out of position, which has been a problem in the past.
Just because the team kind of makes sense doesn't mean that the fans got it right, though. Henry is in the team despite playing in just 11 of the New York Red Bulls' 17 matches this season. Beckham and Donovan are also controversial choices as their form has dipped along with the LA Galaxy's this season and few believe Nielsen is as good as Dan Kennedy or Andy Gruenebaum.
The team will be managed by D.C. United manager Ben Olsen. Peter Nowak was supposed to lead the team because he was the manager of the host Philadelphia Union, but he was fired, so the Pennsylvania native Olsen was asked to take his place.
Clearly, popularity won out in the selections, but these are just the first players on the team and the roster will be filled out with many more candidates who are having great seasons, even if they may have a lower profile. The rest of the team will be announced on July 15 and will be selected by Olsen and MLS commissioner Don Garber.
The fan voting is always controversial because it is more of a popularity contest than anything, but remember, it is just an exhibition game. The stars are always going to be in a match like this, because that is who the fans want to see. Also, the game is a boost to the league's profile, which is the point of all-star games. If you are outraged about the selections, then you should probably find hobbies, or friends.