Los Angeles Soccer: Matt Besler
July, 10, 2011
By Scott French | ESPNLosAngeles.com
Landon Donovan, David Beckham and the right side of the Galaxy's backline is headed to Major League Soccer's All-Star Game.
Defenders Omar Gonzalez and Sean Franklin will join L.A.'s superstars in Harrison, N.J., for the July 27 match against Manchester United after their selections to the First XI in balloting by fans. The league announced the list Sunday afternoon.
It's the 11th straight selection for Donovan, the second for Beckham and Gonzalez, and Franklin's first.
Donovan was asked after Saturday's victory over Chicago about what his expected selection would mean, but he appeared unaware of a shift this season from a player/coach/media/fan ballot to strictly fan voting via MLS's website, Twitter and through text messaging.
“For me, it's an honor because the players and coaches vote on it, too,” he said. “If it was fan voting, which it partially is, but if it was only fan voting, it's a little different. Sometimes, more popular teams with bigger fan bases get players in.
“It is something that means a lot to us, and I think we have a lot of guys here who are deserving.”
Donovan is correct about popularity. MLS's two biggest clubs -- the Galaxy and New York Red Bulls -- dominate the First XI, and fan favorites Jack Jewsbury, the Portland Timbers' captain, and retiring goalkeeping legend Kasey Keller, from the Seattle Sounders, also made the list.
The Red Bulls are represented by French forward Thierry Henry, Mexican defender Rafa Marquez and second-year defender Tim Ream. The others are San Jose forward Chris Wondolowski, last year's Golden Boot winner, and FC Dallas winger Brek Shea, who is having an enormous year.
A 12th player -- Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler -- was the 12th selection, based on receiving the most text votes.
New York Red Bulls coach Hans Backe, who will guide the All-Stars, is not bound by the vote when he chooses his starting lineup -- these are, true to their name, the first XI chosen for the team. Commissioner Don Garber's two selections will be announced Saturday, and the remainder of the team will be announced July 18. The starters will be determined from the full roster.