Juan Agudelo, New York’s teenage forward, and Omar Bravo, a Mexican forward with Sporting Kansas City, were chosen by MLS Commissioner Don Garber for the all-star game against Manchester United on July 27 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J.
Agudelo, 18, is a rising star in the league and with the U.S. national team. Bravo appeals to the league’s Mexican-American demographic. Each has scored four league goals this season. Each year Garber picks two players who aren’t necessarily in the running for traditional selection.
Their inclusion increases the number of all-star selections to 14. Fan voting determined the First XI and a texting competition led to the selection of Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler.
New York’s Hans Backe, who was chosen to guide the all-star squad at his club’s home pitch, is scheduled to name his game-day roster Monday. The list will include between 18 and 23 players. Interestingly, for competitive reasons and health/form considerations, he is under no obligation to include the previously named 14 players, although all except Besler seem likely to be chosen unless they’re not at full fitness (Red Bulls defender Rafael Marquez, for instance).
The collective bargaining agreement between the league and players’ union requires 32 “all-stars” (bonuses are at stake), so after Backe names his game-day squad, the balance of the “team” will be decided by the results of player-only voting. (Players are not allowed to vote for themselves or teammates.) Players among the first 14 selections who are not named to the game-day roster will remain among the 32.
The league won’t reveal the names of the extra all-stars until the week of the All-Star Game. If game-day selections suffer injuries between this Monday and the game, replacements will come from the group of extras.
The 32-player group will include four goalkeepers, eight defenders, 13 midfielders and seven forwards.
The First XI is Seattle goalkeeper Kasey Keller; defenders Marquez, Tim Ream (New York), Sean Franklin and Omar Gonzalez (Los Angeles); midfielders David Beckham (Los Angeles), Jack Jewsbury (Portland) and Brek Shea (Dallas); and forwards Landon Donovan (Los Angeles), Thierry Henry (New York) and Chris Wondolowski (San Jose).