Four D.C. United players, including 15-year-old rookie Freddy Adu, were added to the MLS all-star team yesterday, giving United the highest representation (six) on the Eastern Conference squad for the July 31 match at RFK Stadium.
Midfielders Ben Olsen and Bobby Convey, and forward Alecko Eskandarian were named as reserves by United Coach Peter Nowak, who will guide the East team. Adu was the East's "commissioner's pick," an annual designation to a player from each conference who the league deems worthy of recognition beyond his on-field performance.
Commissioner Don Garber's choice for the West squad was Dallas forward Jason Kreis, a nine-year MLS veteran who became the league's all-time leading goal scorer last month.
"Jason Kreis and Freddy Adu personify the theme of the All-Star Game -- honoring the past, present and future of MLS," Garber said in a written statement.
Although Adu has started only six games and scored two goals, his selection was not a surprise because of his popularity around the league, his high visibility in MLS and United promotions and the fact that the All-Star Game will be televised by ABC (one of only three league games on traditional network television this year). In addition, Adu is a spokesman for the game's primary sponsor, Sierra Mist.
Eskandarian, a second-year player from the University of Virginia, leads United in goals with six, while Olsen and Convey have helped improve United's possession-oriented midfield. Last week, D.C. forward Jaime Moreno (four goals, six assists) and defender Ryan Nelsen were voted to the East's starting lineup.
Chicago will have five representatives, all starters, while New York/New Jersey will have three, also all starters. Columbus and New England have two apiece. Yesterday Nowak selected Columbus goalkeeper Jon Busch, New England forward Pat Noonan and Revolution teammate Clint Dempsey, a midfielder who has emerged as the leading candidate for MLS rookie of the year, as reserves.
Like United, the West-leading Los Angeles Galaxy will have six all-stars, but defender Danny Califf (University of Maryland) won't play because of a knee injury. Galaxy Coach Sigi Schmid added three of his players to the squad yesterday: Califf, goalkeeper Kevin Hartman and forward Jovan Kirovski.
Defending champion San Jose will have five representatives, all starters, while Kansas City will have four, all reserves.
Among the notable omissions were Kansas City's Tony Meola and Colorado's Joe Cannon, MLS's top two goalies in goals against average; and Kansas City forward Davy Arnaud, who's third in the league in scoring with 17 points (seven goals, three assists).
However, Meola is expected to play in a 50-minute preliminary game featuring veterans of the 1994 U.S. World Cup squad against a team of former MLS international stars, including Nowak and Hristo Stoitchkov. The league is planning to unveil those rosters today.
Meantime, MLS is on the brink of awarding an expansion team to Salt Lake City, where former New York Knicks president Dave Checketts has made a commitment to build a soccer stadium. Another expansion club will share Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., with the Galaxy. Both teams are expected to start play next season, increasing the number of teams to 12.