Jaime Moreno, who rejuvenated his troubled career following back surgery last fall and became D.C. United's leading scorer, has been voted to start for the Eastern Conference in the Major League Soccer All-Star Game on July 31 at RFK Stadium.
Moreno, 30, will be joined by United defender Ryan Nelsen, who was selected for the second consecutive year. An official announcement will be made by the league today. Voting was done by general managers, coaches, players, fans and media.
The reserves will be named on Monday, with forward Alecko Eskandarian, who has a team-high six goals, the most deserving of the other D.C. players. Rookie forward Freddy Adu, 15, will likely be among the annual commissioner's picks, considering he is being used in promotions for the nationally televised match and is a spokesman for the game's sponsor, Sierra Mist.
United Coach Peter Nowak will coach the East team based on the club's first-place standing at last weekend's deadline. Sigi Schmid of Los Angeles will guide the West.
Moreno, United's all-time leading scorer who has four goals and six assists this year, was an all-star four straight years between 1997 and 2000. But injuries and ineffective play the next two years appeared to mark the downside of his career, and he was traded to the New York/New Jersey MetroStars prior to the 2003 season.
After playing in only 11 games and scoring two goals last year, the Bolivian-born forward had back surgery during the offseason. Having fallen out of the MetroStars' plans, United offered a tryout and a modest salary following several years as one of MLS's highest-paid players. Boosted by an offseason training program taught by former Redskins linebacker Eddie Mason, Moreno got himself into playing shape and made an immediate impact. Nelsen, 26, has anchored United's backfield despite missing time because of a groin injury and New Zealand national team duty.
The other East starters will be Chicago forward Damani Ralph; midfielders DaMarcus Beasley (Chicago), Amado Guevara (New York/New Jersey), Chris Armas (Chicago) and 17-year-old Eddie Gaven (N.Y./N.J.); defenders Eddie Pope (N.Y./N.J.), Jim Curtin (Chicago) and Frankie Hejduk (Columbus); and Chicago goalkeeper Henry Ring.
In the West, five players from defending champion San Jose were named: forward Brian Ching, goalkeeper Pat Onstad, defender Jeff Agoos, and midfielders Landon Donovan and Richard Mulrooney. They are joined by three Los Angeles players -- forward Carlos Ruiz, midfielder Andreas Herzog and defender Chris Albright -- two Dallas representatives (defender Cory Gibbs and midfielder Ronnie O'Brien) and Colorado defender Pablo Mastroeni.
New England and Kansas City have no all-star starters. Gavin is the youngster player voted to start in an MLS all-star game. Agoos is the only player to make all nine all-star teams.