MLS All-Stars vs. AS Roma | MLS All-Star Game Match Preview

2013 All-Star Game

MLS ALL-STARS vs AS ROMA
SPORTING PARK, Kansas City, Kan.
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
8 p.m. CT (ESPN2; UniMas; TSN/RDS)

The 2013 AT&T MLS All-Star Game will feature some history in the event, as the MLS All-Stars take on a club from Italy's Serie A for the first time when AS Roma provide the opposition. The giallorossi last year finished sixth in the Italian top flight, also reaching the final of the Coppa Italia were they lost 1-0 to crosstown rivals SS Lazio.

THE OPPOSITION: Founded in 1927, AS Roma have won three Serie A titles, last in 2000/01, nine Coppa Italia title, and two Supercoppa Italiana titles. AS Roma's youth academy regularly produces more Serie A players than any other in Italy. Roma play at Stadio Olimpico in Rome, which was constructed for the 1960 Olympic Games. Roma are the only Italian club owned and managed by a United States-based group. The group, based out of Boston, Mass., is led by owner and AS Roma President James Pallotta, Chairman of Raptor Group.

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ROMA LAST SEASON: Roma last season finished sixth in Italy's Serie A, with 62 points from 38 matches, 25 points behind champion Juventus FC. Roma also reached the final of the Coppa Italia, losing 1-0 to archrival and crosstown foe SS Lazio, in a match played at Stadio Olimpico. Roma began the season managed by Zdenek Zeman; he was replaced by Aurelio Andreazzoli on 2 February.

THE FORMAT: This is the 10th time the MLS All-Stars have taken on international competition in the All-Star Game. The MLS teams hold a 7-2-1 record; they have outscored their opponents 19-16.

Last year, the MLS All-Stars again faced a rematch, defeating Chelsea FC of the English Premier League 3-2 at PPL Park in Chester, Pa. After goals from Chelsea's John Terry and Frank Lampard canceled out an early Chris Wondolowski goal, All-Star Game MVP Chris Pontius scored the equalizer in the 73rd minute, then Eddie Johnson scored the game-winner in stoppage time. It was a rematch of the 2006 game, won 1-0 by the MLS All-Stars at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill.

Manchester United FC provided the opposition each of the two previous years. United won 4-0 in 2011 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J., after winning 5-2 in 2010 at Reliant Stadium in Houston.

In 2009, English Premier League side Everton FC ended the five-game winning streak by the MLS All-Stars in a penalty kick shootout after a 1-1 draw over 90 minutes. Everton FC goalkeeper Tim Howard – who of course played in MLS prior to his move to England – received the game's Most Valuable Player award after making three saves in the penalty decider.

In 2008, the MLS All-Stars defeated English Premier League side West Ham United 3-2 in Toronto, the first All-Star Game played outside the USA. In 2007, the MLS All-Stars defeated Scottish Premier League power Celtic FC 2-0, while in 2005, the MLS All-Stars defeat English Premier League club Fulham FC 4-1 at Columbus Crew Stadium. In 2003, the MLS All-Stars downed Mexican club CD Guadalajara 3-1 at The Home Depot Center.

The 2003 contest was the second consecutive year a single team of MLS All-Stars was selected for the midseason classic, as the year before the MLS All-Stars took on a US national team selection following the USA's historic quarterfinal performance at FIFA World Cup 2002 Korea/Japan. All 18 of the players selected by Bruce Arena for the match plied their trade in MLS. In 1998, an international theme was also used in the MLS All-Star Game as a team of US MLS stars took on a squad comprised of international MLS stars. Each of the other seven All-Star Games featured an East vs. West format.

RULES OF COMPETITION: All players in the squad for both teams are eligible to play. Each team will be allowed to make up to 10 substitutions. At the end of 90 minutes, if the teams are tied, no extra time will be played and the game will be decided by kicks from the penalty mark.

AGAINST SERIE A: A fourth different league will provide the opposition when Serie Aís AS Roma face the MLS All-Stars this year. On seven occasions, clubs from the English Premier League have taken on the MLS All-Stars (Chelsea FC (twice), Manchester United FC (twice), Everton FC, West Ham United FC and Fulham FC). Teams from the Scottish Premier League (Celtic FC) and Mexicos FMF Primera División (CD Guadalajara) have also faced the best of MLS.

THE REFEREES: Hilario Grajeda will be the referee for the 2012 MLS All-Star Game. In his 12th season as a Major League Soccer referee, this is Grajeda's first appearance in the MLS All-Star Game. The assistant referees are Paul Scott and Bill Dittmar. It is also the first All-Star Game for both assistant referees. The fourth official is Drew Fischer.

TEAM SELECTION: The 2013 AT&T MLS All-Star team was selected in four phases. A total of 32 All-Stars are named each year, per the collective bargaining agreement.

  • Ballot creation: A select media panel determined the field of players – at least six players per team – who were most deserving of consideration for this yearís All-Star Game. In all, 115 players were eligible for fan voting.
  • Fan voting: The All-Star Fan XI was then selected through three digital platforms – at MLSsoccer.com, via text message (SMS) and on Twitter. The 10 players with the highest combined votes were named to the All-Star Fan XI. The 11th player – a forward – on the Fan XI was decided after the general voting window closed, as part of the AT&T MLS All-Star 'In the Game' Challenge. Among remaining forwards on the ballot, the player with whom fans scored the most goals in EA SPORTS' FIFA Soccer 13 from July 3-July 10 was named to the Fan XI.
  • Team selection: The MLS All-Star head coach, Peter Vermes of Sporting Kansas City, selected the gameday roster from the pool of eligible players, consisting of the Fan XI, MLS Commissioner Don Garber's two selections and players who received votes from at least two players.
  • Player selections: Once the final gameday roster was announced, voting by MLS players determined the remainder of the 32 All-Stars named annually per the collective bargaining agreement (known as the 'inactive roster'). The final 32 All-Stars will be comprised of 4 goalkeepers, 8 defenders, 13 midfielders and 7 forwards.

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THE FAN XI: The MLS All-Star Fan XI received the most votes at their respective positions from combined fan voting on three platforms – online at MLSsoccer.com, via text message, and via Twitter.

The Fan XI is not necessarily the starting lineup. The MLS All-Star starters will be selected by head coach Peter Vermes based on player availability and tactical considerations.

Goalkeeper: Raul Fernández (FC Dallas)

Defenders: Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Aurélien Collin (Sporting Kansas City), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy)

Midfielders: Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Will Johnson (Portland Timbers), Mike Magee (Chicago Fire), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

Forwards: Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), AT&T 'In the Game' forward

IN THE GAME FORWARD: Montreal Impact forward Marco Di Vaio as the winner of the AT&T MLS All-Star 'In the Game' Challenge. Fans around the world scored 73,838 goals with Di Vaio through EA SPORTS™ FIFA Soccer 13 from July 3-July 10 to secure him the final spot on the All-Star Fan XI.

Di Vaio outscored the other 26 eligible MLS forwards with one goal equaling one vote. LA Galaxy forward Robbie Keane finished second in the AT&T MLS All-Star 'In the Game' Challenge with 69,797 goals. In total, more than 488,000 goals were scored with the 26 eligible MLS forwards in FIFA Soccer 13 during the week-long period.

This is the first time in any professional sports league that fans used a video game to determine the outcome of a vote for an All-Star game. Through general voting via MLSsoccer.com, text message and Twitter, 10 other players were previously named All-Stars.

THE REST: The MLS All-Star Game gameday roster, as selected by head coach Peter Vermes, includes 20 players. Each of the players named to the Fan XI have been included in the squad.

Both players originally selected by MLS Commissioner Don Garber – homegrown defender DeAndre Yedlin of Seattle Sounders FC and New York Red Bulls midfielder Tim Cahill – were part of the gameday squad. Philadelphia Union forward Jack McInerney then replaced Cahill, because of injury.

Goalkeepers: Raul Fernández (FC Dallas), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

Defenders: Corey Ashe (Houston Dynamo), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Tony Beltran (Real Salt Lake), Aurélien Collin (Sporting Kansas City), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders FC)

Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Patrice Bernier (Montreal Impact), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Will Johnson (Portland Timbers), Mike Magee (Chicago Fire), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

Forwards: Marco Di Vaio (Montreal Impact), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls), Jack McInerney (Philadelphia Union), Camilo Sanvezzo (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

HEAD COACH: The MLS All-Stars will be coached by Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes, joined by his technical staff as assistant coaches.

In his fifth season as manager of Sporting Kansas City, Vermes had led the club to first place in the Eastern Conference with a 9-5-6 record at the midway point of the season. An original member of Major League Soccer, Vermes retired as an active player in 2002, closing out his playing career in Kansas City after stints with the MetroStars and Colorado Rapids.

In his first year in Kansas City, Vermes anchored one of the best defenses in league history and won MLS Defender of the Year honors in helping lead the Wizards to the 2000 MLS Cup title. He retired after appearing in 184 MLS matches and playing over 16,000 minutes. An integral part of a young US team at the 1990 World Cup in Italy, Vermes this year was elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame.

RECORD HOLDER: With his 13th selection to an MLS All-Star Game, Landon Donovan is the all-time MLS leader in All-Star selections. Donovan has been selected every season since his rookie year of 2001. He has played in 10 MLS All-Star Games and was twice elected as a starter, but unable to play (2006, 2011). In his 10 appearances, Donovan has scored five goals and added four assists, and was named MLS All-Star Game MVP in 2001, when he scored four goals.

INTERNATIONALS ON PARADE: Sixteen members of the MLS All-Star team have represented their countries at senior level. In all, 10 members of the MLS team were involved with their countries in this year's CONCACAF Gold Cup -- goalkeeper Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake); defenders Corey Ashe (Houston Dynamo), Tony Beltran (Real Salt Lake), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City) and Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy); midfielder Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake); and forwards Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Jack McInerney (Philadelphia Union) and Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes) for the USA, as well as midfielder Will Johnson (Portland Timbers) with Canada.

The MLS All-Star squad also features a FIFA World Cup winner in Thierry Henry (France), as well as Peruvian first-choice goalkeeper Raúl Fernández and former Italian international Marco Di Vaio.

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EXPERIENCE: Twelve players named to the MLS All-Star gameday roster have previously participated in the All-Star game.

US national team star Landon Donovan, who now holds the all-time record with his 13 selections to the MLS All-Star Game, has played in 10 games (starting five), also the most in league history.

Five other players have played in multiple All-Star games, led by Brad Davis, who has played in four. Kyle Beckerman has played in three, and Nick Rimando, Chris Wondolowski and Thierry Henry have played in two.

Six players – Corey Ashe, Matt Besler, Aurelien Collin, Omar Gonzalez, Will Johnson and Graham Zusi – have all played in one previous All-Star Game.

DEBUTANTS: Eight players will be making their first appearances in an MLS All-Star Game: Raul Fernández (FC Dallas), Tony Beltran (Real Salt Lake), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders FC), Patrice Bernier, Marco Di Vaio (both Montreal Impact), Jack McInerney (Philadelphia Union), Mike Magee (Chicago Fire) and Camilo Sanvezzo (Vancouver Whitecaps FC)

The most debutants for any single MLS team in the current format was 14, in 2009.

RETURNEES: Eight players who were named to the 2012 MLS All-Star team have returned to play this year. Three players were in the starting team vs. Chelsea FC -- Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Aurélien Collin (Sporting Kansas City) and Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes). Two players were substitutes in the match -- Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake) – while three were additional selections Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo)

Just two players who played in the 2008 MLS All-Star Game – Landon Donovan and Cuauhtémoc Blanco – were part of the gameday squad for the 2009 contest. That was the fewest number of returning players from one year to the next in the MLS vs. the World format. In 2008, 10 players who appeared in the 2007 All-Star Game saw action against West Ham United, the most returnees in any year in the current format.

BY TEAM: Host Sporting Kansas City and Real Salt Lake, the respective conference leaders at the All-Star break, each have three players on the MLS gameday squad to lead all teams. Three teams – the Houston Dynamo, LA Galaxy and Montréal Impact – each have two players in the team. In all, 13 of the 19 MLS teams are represented.

TOPS ON THE CHARTS: The top four men in the MLS Golden Boot standings – the top three of whom are also the top three in both total attempts at goal and shots on target – are all members of the MLS All-Star squad. Mike Magee of the Chicago Fire and Camilo Sanvezzo of Vancouver Whitecaps FC are tied atop the list with 13 goals each, one more than Marco Di Vaio of the Montréal Impact, while Jack McInerney of Philadelphia Union has 10. Camilo leads with 75 attempts at goal, while Di Vaio's 35 shots on target are the most.

AGAINST THE WORLD: Landon Donovan has played in seven All-Star games against international competition, the most of any MLS player. Among current All-Stars, only Donovan, Brad Davis (4), Kyle Beckerman (3), Thierry Henry and Chris Wondolowski (2 each) have played in multiple games in the current format.

De Rosario has scored three goals in the MLS vs. The World format, most of any MLS player. Only he and Jeff Cunningham have scored multiple goals in the current matchup; Cunningham's goals both came against Fulham FC (2005). Among current All-Stars, only Davis (2009) and Wondolowski (2012) have scored against the international opposition.

A RARE ROOKIE INCLUDED: Seattle Sounders FC homegrown defender DeAndre Yedlin is the first true rookie to be included in the MLS All-Star Game since 2005, when New England Revolution defender Michael Parkhurst was a member of the team that faced Fulham FC. They are the only two rookies to be part of the MLS squad in the current MLS vs. The World format.

2013 AT&T MLS ALL-STAR GAME FESTIVITIES

PREGAME SHOW

Hosted by former MLS and U.S. national team defender Brian Dunseth, the pregame show will provide interviews with players and insight and more. It will also feature a fully integrated experience from Wide Angle Productions with aerialists suspended in the air, dancers and pyrotechnics.

MLS W.O.R.K.S. 'DON'T CROSS THE LINE'

To represent the unified message of the match officials, MLS All-Stars, AS Roma and the fans, an in-stadium presentation will take place just prior to the player procession, including on-field demonstration and a card display in the east stands.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: Tyler Glenn

Tyler Glenn, lead singer of nationally renowned alt rock band Neon Trees, will sing the national anthem.

HALFTIME ENTERTAINMENT

Featuring a fireworks show, presented by Sporting Kansas City.

AFTER THE MATCH

Presentation of the Volkswagen Most Valuable Player award and the AT&T MLS All-Star Game trophy