Yesterday Major League Soccer announced its 2012 All Star Starting XI…
The All Star game is on July 25th in Philly and will pit the best in the MLS against EPL giant Chelsea.
Sporting KC is represented big time, with more players on the Starting XI than any other team.
That’s some major props to Sporting and its front office, considering KC doesn’t exactly get the national media coverage that some of the other teams do.
Kansas City has three players on the Starting XI – Jimmy Nielsen, Aurelien Collin and Graham Zusi.
My initial thoughts:
Jimmy Nielsen absolutely deserves this. He’s been solid all year and has recorded shutouts in three of the last four league games. No problem at all with this pick.
Aurelien Collin is a little iffier. The Frenchman is certainly noticeable with his playing style and shaved head, and he’s had a decent enough year, racking up 3 goals from his defensive position. But to me Matt Besler is the more deserving defender. Though not as visible, Besler does the little things that often go unnoticed. His steady play allows Collin to be the wildman on the pitch.
The selection of Zusi, while not as much of a slam dunk as Nielsen, is more justifiable than Collin. He’s earned an impressive 8 assists on the year – though to be fair he does take all of Sporting’s set pieces and corners. He’s also been a solid contributor in the middle, showing a great work ethic and a nice touch, though not quite as nice as expected after he stormed his way to a fantastic second half of the 2011 season.
Zusi’s inclusion seems to be a combination of the carryover from his breakout performance last season and the fact that some soccer writers included him as a dark horse for the MVP prior to this season.
I think many would argue that Roger Espinoza is the more deserving of the Sporting midfielders, but I’m OK with Zusi’s inclusion on the Starting XI.
Really, just the fact that KC got 3 out of the 11 guys selected – which includes names like Thierry Henry, David Beckham, Chris Wondolowski, and London Donovan – is a big national recognition for Sporting as an organization.