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Even solid All-Star squad comes with question marks

Jul 15, 2013, 5:58 PM EDT

DeAndre Yedlin

It’s difficult to take too many exceptions with the 20-man, game day squad Major League Soccer has named for July 31’s All-Star Game. Across all sports and all formats for these kind of exhibitions, we’re used to the type of glaring mistakes that are often the product of these exhibitions. Whether it be baseball’s bloated rosters, basketball’s former positional constraints, or football’s pure ‘who cares’ attitude toward their event, the teams that are selected often reflect the weird context that surrounds their games.

The team Peter Vermes helped select is relatively free of those types of obvious errors, which is not to say there aren’t places we can nit pick. Here’s the full game day squad, with Vermes’ seven picks in bold, Don Garber’s two commissioner’s picks in italics:

Goalkeeper: Raúl Fernández (FC Dallas), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

Defenders: Corey Ashe (Houston Dynamo), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Tony Beltran (Real Salt Lake), Aurélien Collin (Sporting Kansas City), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders FC)

Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Patrice Bernier (Montreal Impact), Tim Cahill (New York Red Bulls), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Will Johnson (Portland Timbers), Mike Magee (Chicago Fire), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

Forwards: Marco Di Vaio (Montreal Impact), Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls), Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy), Camilo Sanvezzo (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

Some of Vermes picks address positional concerns. Others are no brainers. Ashe and Beltran were picked because the roster needed fullbacks, and while they may not be your personal favorites at the positions, it’s difficult to make a rock solid case against either veteran. In midfield, Vermes added the season’s two best holders to a holder-less roster, while it’s unclear anybody had better cases for the rest of the spots then Keane and Sanvezzo. Overall, Vermes is close to beyond reproach.

Garber’s picks are a bit weird, though. Yedlin (pictured) is a great prospect, but it’s hard justify this selection. Is the buzz around him really enough to justify giving the 20-year-old a spot in Kansas City? You could make the case he’s the third-best starting right back in Cascadia. Although it’s at a different position, Jack McInerney would have been a better choice if you’re looking for a young buzz-generator, and if you want the huge Seattle market behind the game, overlook Osvaldo Alonso’s recent absence and pick only to the league’s best players.

Cahill’s case is a bit stronger, but he still has not had an All-Star caliber season (or, season-plus, since joining Major League Soccer). While the former Everton star is a renown player, he’s not the type of star that’s going to add any glamour to the event. Somebody like Federico Higuaín may have been a better choice, if you’re looking to add an extra storyline to the game. With the Columbus star also unlikely to significantly move the needle, it might have been best to honor a veteran or go with the best player available.

Again, these are relative concerns. As far as All-Star rosters go, this one’s reasonably solid. Go through the league’s squads, and it’s difficult to find somebody whose claim for Kansas City is so compelling that their play should overwhelm the myriad other factors that go into picking this roster.

  1. planethotdog - Jul 15, 2013 at 6:44 PM

    I was surprised to see Javier Morales left off the list. He’s having a huge first half for RSL.

  2. joeyt360 - Jul 15, 2013 at 7:17 PM

    Yedlin is getting picked because given the positions and roles he’s a better bet for future Nat caps. Cohiba Don is making the long term play.

  3. talgrath - Jul 15, 2013 at 7:33 PM

    With Keane potentially out to injury, I wonder who Vermes’ back up pick would be, my guess is McInerney. Beckerman makes sense, in no small part because you want a holding midfielder and also because Alonso has spent significant time this season injured. Cahill is more of a head-scratcher to me; he’s always looked good in MLS, just not great, but Cahill against less physical opponents might be able to spart a little of his old Everton play.

    I’d personally say Yedlin is the best attacking right back in the league, his service is always good and he isn’t afraid to run at people; Yedlin’s defending is usually solid, aside from very occasional poor decisions, I can only think of two major mistakes from Yedlin this season on defense (which is usually a pretty good measure of a defender). Admittedly, there are guys who are better pure right backs in the league, but I’d say overall Yedlin is one of the top right-backs in the league. Admittedly, Garber probably included Yedlin because he’s a homegrown Seattle player, not based on skill assessment though.

    • charliej11 - Jul 15, 2013 at 9:13 PM

      Yedlin’s service is barely ever good. I do like how he plays, I love watching him play and he will be great, but he has a long way to go before he is an All Star. There is no one faster than him however. He makes fast guys look slow.

  4. tackledummy1505 - Jul 15, 2013 at 10:30 PM

    Wow the leading goal scorer doesn’t get picked for the All-Star game? Guy isn’t even playing right now due to National team obligations. Le Toux left off is another slap in the face for the Union. No one has had better corner kicks then Le Toux and Le Toux has been significantly better this year than he was at all last year. Even if you don’t want to add Le Toux maybe just maybe Okugo has a mid instead of a fullback. Since as it goes for fullbacks how many goals does any other fullback in the league have. I know Okugo has 3 or 4. Just seems like the Union got the shaft this year when last year was a more justifiable reason to leave Union players off, even though I know the game was held in Philly. Wondo is a great forward but really can you say he’s having an All-Star season so far?

  5. tackledummy1505 - Jul 15, 2013 at 10:36 PM

    Not too mention this roster is heavy on the Western Conference. Montreal who’s having a fantastic season gets 1 player? Cahill has been ok like someone else stated. This is suppose to be a game for one’s achievements not who matches up well for an all star game lol. Still Jack Mac can’t get no love for the All Star game or playing time for the National team. I know he’s still young but the guy knows how to score and has a knack to blow up defenses.

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