MLS's "First XI," determined by voting, for the July 19 All-Star Game against Celtic is a solid group. Seven more players are to be picked -- five by Coach Steve Nicoland two by Commissioner Don Garber -- and there are far more candidates who merit serious consideration than allotted places.
There will actually be a lot more players designated as all-stars for purposes of individual bonuses, as a condition of the collective bargaining agreement negotiated by the MLS Players Union.
Only seven teams, led by New England with three selections, are represented by the 11 vote leaders: Matt Reis, Michael Parkhurst, GrenadianShalrie Joseph(New England); Eddie Johnson, Jimmy Conrad (Kansas City); Ricardo Clark, Canadian Dwayne DeRosario (Houston); Argentine Christian Gomez (D.C. United); ColombianJuan Toja (Dallas); Colombian Juan Pablo Angel (Red Bull New York); and Jonathan Bornstein(Chivas USA).
DeRosario is a stretch because of his near-invisibility in many early-season games, yet one could make a case that DeRo's spectacular strike that beat Chelsea, 1-0, in last year's All-Star Game gives him a lifetime exemption, kind of like winning the Masters' golf tournament guarantees a slot in the tournament forever.
Landon Donovan hasn't been brilliant in MLS this season but he did whip off his jersey and display a sports bra, a la Brandi Chastain, at the 2001 All-Star Game, a moment that will live in All-Star Game infamy.
Will David Beckham flash his pecs this year? Many fans hope so. He will supposedly be on hand but isn't going to play.
As to those who most deserve to be added the list begins with strikersLuciano Emilio (D.C. United) and Maykel Galindo (Chivas USA). They have been essential to their teams this season. If more Revs can be taken, and with Nicol you know that's a distinct possibility, first choice would Taylor Twellman, who could probably use a rest after Gold Cup and Copa America duty.
MLS play resumes the following Sunday, July 22, and the Revs are one of eight teams who will be in action. Against Houston in an MLS Cup 2006 rematch. Yes, it's a biggie.
Andy Dorman? Why not?
Emilio will be a key figure for D.C. in the SuperLiga with Jaime Moreno perhaps a bit worn out by playing, and playing well, for Bolivia in the Copa America. Come to think of it, Moreno would be a good choice, too, but only 18 players can be named to the game roster. Keeper Troy Perkinshas been strong as well.
No right back was named in the first 11, and that's an ideal reason to select Frankie Hejduk, who will torment a Celtic team in preseason condition. Other Crew possibilities are Ned Grabavoy and Guillermo Barros Schelotto.
The skidding Rapids are hosting the game, so the choices boil down to wily veteran Pablo Mastroeni, Kyle Beckerman, winger Terry Cooke, or thrill-keeper Bouna Coundoul. Clint Mathis has revived his career in New York and if the idea is to beat Celtic -- which is surely on the mind of former Ayr United player Nicol -- he can aid that cause. Teammate Carlos Mendes could shore up the back line.
For the rabid support of its fans, Toronto FC deserves an All-Star presence, perhaps Danny Dichio or Ronnie O'Brien. And if MLS can import a few hundred TFC fans to fill up a section of Dick's Sporting Goods Park with color and noise, so much the better.
The commissioner can tick off another team and delight the RSL fans by naming Freddy Adu, but a nice gesture would be a farewell Eddie Popeappearance. Between the two, Pope deserves it more. A healthy Chris Rolfe could be Chicago's entry if one is required. Donovan is the logical Galaxy choice, though Kyle Martino has played pretty well.