The 2014 AT&T MLS All-Star game will have a World Cup feel to it, and it’s not just because Bayern Munich are coming to town.
Major League Soccer released the Fan XI for this year’s showcase in Portland (Aug. 6, 6 pm PT | ESPN2, UniMas in the US; TSN/RDS in Canada), and eight of the 11 players chosen come from the United States men's national team's 2014 World Cup squad, while the other three have all been to the world’s biggest show and share eight World Cup participations between them.
Clint Dempsey and DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders), Matt Besler and Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City), Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), and Michael Bradley (Toronto FC) all represented the United States in Brazil, while Gonzalez's Galaxy teammate, Landon Donovan, appeared for the USMNT in the 2002, 2006, 2010 World Cups and has more goals than any other American in World Cup play.
Rounding out the field and giving the Sounders the highest representation with three players in the Fan XI is Obafemi Martins, who represented Nigeria in the 2010 World Cup, and Thierry Henry of the New York Red Bulls, who was a World Cup winner in 1998, and a participant in 2002, 2006 and 2010 with France.
On the other side, Bayern Munich field seven players in Germany's World Cup-winning team, and a total of 14 players who represented their respective country at the 2014 World Cup.
The top top teams in MLS are heavily represented in the selection, with the Supporters' Shield-leading Sounders, 2013 MLS Cup finalists RSL and Sporting, and 2011 and 2012 MLS Cup winners LA Galaxy all sending multiple players.
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Ten of the Fan XI received the most votes at their respective positions from combined fan voting online at MLSsoccer.com and via Twitter, from a ballot of 152 players nominated by media members. One forward, Martins, was selected via the AT&T/EA SPORTS™ “More than a Vote” Challenge, where the MLS forward with the most goals scored by EA SPORTS FIFA 14 players earned a spot on the Fan XI.
Players who were close to the leading vote-getters at their positions, but finished outside the Fan XI include, in alphabetical order by last name: Steven Beitashour (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Júlio César (Toronto FC), Tim Cahill (New York Red Bulls), Aurelien Collin (Sporting Kansas City), Jermain Defoe (Toronto FC) and Benny Feilhaber (Sporting Kansas City).
There aren't yet any Portland Timbers players on this year's group, but All-Star and Timbers head coach Caleb Porter could well send some when he names the rest of his All-Star game-day roster, to be revealed on July 19 during halftime of the ESPN2 broadcast of the Sporting Kansas City-LA Galaxy game (3 pm PT).
The Fan XI will not necessarily be the starting lineup against Bayern Munich, though. The 20-man game-day roster will be decided from among the Fan XI, Commissioner Don Garber's two All-Star picks, and players that received at least two votes from their fellow players, all based on player availability and tactical considerations.
From there, MLS players will determine the remainder of the 32 All-Stars named annually per the collective bargaining agreement, otherwise known as the "inactive roster." The final list of 32 All-Stars (4 goalkeepers, 8 defenders, 13 midfielders, 7 forwards) will be announced on MLSsoccer.com on Aug. 6.
2014 MLS All-Star Fan XI:
Goalkeeper: Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
Defenders: Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders)
Midfielders: Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
Forwards: Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls), Obafemi Martins (Seattle Sounders)