COMMENTARY | There is plenty that's wacky and maybe even a bit silly about the Major League Soccer All-Star Game. Scheduling an exhibition walkabout that features the supposed "best of the best" of MLS taking on a random European opponent in the middle of their preseason during what could be the hottest time of the calendar year is a recipe for a "meh" game that in zero way flatters the US top-flight league regardless of the match's final score. Despite any logic holes or protests from fans that really only come if the MLS All-Stars lose, these games continue to occur, so we all might as well make the best of it.
There weren't too many surprises in Monday's announcement of the 2013 MLS All-Star squad. Landon Donovan not being named is hardly a shock considering his beginning-of-the-season hiatus, and Philadelphia Union forward Jack McInerney is the only glaring omission I noticed. Since pleasing fans who participated in the ASG ballot vote means little to me, it's very likely that my first-choice lineup will not be what you'll see on July 31.
Note: This squad was assembled assuming that all available players listed below will have returned from Gold Cup duty.
2013 MLS All-Star Game Starting XI: Goalkeepers
Two goalkeepers. Two halves. Splitting the duty 50/50 makes sense for this friendly. Nick Rimando is once again getting his chance to shine for the US Men's National Team, so I'd like to see Raúl Fernández have an opportunity to make some second half stops that could potentially have a major impact on the outcome of the match.
2013 MLS All-Star Game Starting XI: Defenders
I say it every year, and I'll do so again: This is an exhibition that's meant to be fun, and thus I want to see plenty of goals. That means no more than three at the back. In the interest of fairness regarding club and country, I chose to give Corey Ashe, Aurélien Collin and Omar Gonzalez the nods here. Matt Besler could replace Sporting Kansas City teammate Collin at some point during the match, and DeAndre Yedlin, the first rookie to make the league's All-Star gameday squad in eight seasons, definitely deserves a shift.
2013 MLS All-Star Game Starting XI: Midfielders
Patrice Bernier can help stabilize things in the defensive third and also launch counterattacks, and his ability to play in a variety of formations as he has done at Montreal Impact has earned him a spot in the starting lineup. Mike Magee has been a true MVP candidate since joining Chicago Fire, carrying what has been a disappointing side on his back. Graham Zusi is a yearly lock for the ASG starting lineup. That doesn't change this summer. Tim Cahill, the team MVP of the 2013 New York Red Bulls, could very easily be captain of this squad. The former Everton star doesn't know the meaning of the word "exhibition," and his style of play is perfect for what the MLS All-Star Game is meant to represent.
2013 MLS All-Star Game Starting XI: Forwards
These were the easiest gaps in the team to fill. Camilo has emerged as the leading goalscorer in all of MLS during the current run of the Vancouver Whitecaps, and it would be criminal to not start him if he is available on the final day of the month. The ageless Robbie Keane continues to dazzle, to the point that I'd pick him over any other forward in the league. Montreal's Marco Di Vaio often struggles with the offside rule, but his eleven goals, good for second-best in MLS and just one tally behind Camilo, cannot be ignored.
Zac has been covering the USMNT, Holland, Tottenham Hotspur, New York Red Bulls, Major League Soccer and other soccer leagues for Yahoo! Sports since 2010.
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