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2011 All-Star Ballot

The 2011 All-Star ballot was released on Wednesday afternoon. For those on the ballot from the Union, hearty congratulations are in order for Danny Califf, Sebastien Le Toux, Justin Mapp, Faryd Mondragon, Danny Mwanga and Carlos Ruiz, all of whom made the cut.

“Made the cut?” I’m glad you might asked. Even though the headline on MLSsoccer.com says “Fan ballot launched for AT & T MLS All-Star Game,” the second sentence of the announcement reads, “A panel of media members nominated a total of 108 players – the top six per team – to the fan ballot.”

Apparently MLS fans need a panel of media experts to be told who qualifies for consideration, a panel of experts who apparently are unaware of Carlos Valdes, surely one of the best signings of the 2011 season, and Sheanon Williams, in his second season looking to be one of the premier wing backs in the country. These experts are presumably the same people who have written stories since the start of the season about a troubled and under-performing Union offense and yet chose three Union forwards, even though the Union only fields one or two up top.

If we can all agree that Valdes and Williams should have been on the ballot, that means that at least two players should not be on the ballot. So, let’s take a look at the expert’s selections.

Should Faryd Mondragon be on the ballot? Yes. His leadership is undeniable and worthy of consideration and his few flubs are balanced out by some outstanding saves. Danny Califf? Sure. Another undisputed leader, the highest ranked Union player in the admittedly mysterious Castrol Index and an out-and-out warrior. Danny Mwanga? Of course. Aside from being the club’s leading scorer, he is probably the single player on the Union roster who, when he enters the field, electrifies both his teammates and fans with the expectation that goals are gonna be scored. After that, things get tough.

Should Justin Mapp be on the ballot? On recent form, perhaps. But he has missed too much time due to injury and on his form throughout the season, the answer is no. Sebastien Le Toux? Love him, but not this season. And Carlos Ruiz? Don’t make me laugh. He’s scored some big goals but it is his absence from the roster that has led to any sense that the Union offense is starting to come together.

So, who would I pick? Mondragon, Califf, Valdes, Williams and Mwanga are easy. The sixth choice is harder. Brian Carroll has been a rock. While the rest of the midfield—particularly the Farfans, Nakazawa and Mapp—is finally starting to come together, has anyone really had the kind of form (or minutes) throughout the season that places them among the league’s best? To me, the last pick comes down to a choice between Carroll and Jordan Harvey. Personally, I would complete the recognition of a defense that is among the best in the league and select Jordan Harvey. After all, if there is a story of the season with the Union, it is the virtually impenetrable backline.

How about you? Who would you pick, even if the All-Star Game is a bit of a joke?

Union

You can register your vote for the 2011 All-Star team here. As of this writing, Carlos Valdes leads the voting in a poll at MLSsoccer.com on who’s missing from the All-Star ballot. You can vote for him (and enter Williams, too) here.

If you need another reason why Williams ought to be on the All-Star ballot, he’s class. No doubt he feels snubbed by not being included on the ballot, but that didn’t stop him from sending out this tweet: “Want to encourage everybody to vote for the allstar game our guys deserve it.”

The Brotherly Game weighs in on the Union All-Star snubs.

Stating the obvious, this piece says that Jack McInerney is likely to “get more starts, see more minutes” in the Union offense thanks to the absence of Carlos Ruiz. John Hackworth says with what I hope is an accidental lack of enthusiasm, “Going forward, I think we’ll have to use him.” McInerney notes that, even though he has trained very little with Sebastien Le Toux, he thought they combined well against Colorado. “It’s tough to get a feeling just going out and playing one time with each other. But for the first game, I thought we played pretty well together.” Agreed. Now, how about starting McInerney with Mwanga? (And how about using a picture of McInerney from this season? The PSP is happy to share, MLSsoccer.com.)

Speaking of Mwanga, the young forward and All-Star candidate says, “Last year, at the beginning, I was getting pushed around. One of my goals was to go into the off-season and get stronger.” Hackworth says of Mwanga, “He is a good student of the game, very coachable.” Mwanga is grateful to Peter Nowak. “At the beginning, when things weren’t going well, he had faith in me and pushed me to work even harder. The reason why I’m here now and the success I’m having, Peter is a big part of it.”

Philly Union Talk has three lessons from the Colorado game.

Candygate has come to a welcome conclusion. Kerith Gabriel tweets that the real culprit in causing Keon Daniel, Danny Mwanga and Sheanon Williams to miss the flight home from Colorado wasn’t a candy run but “an ornery USAir gate attendant.” So I guess we should now refer to this delicious non-story as Gategate, although Ornerygate is tasty, too. The trio were reportedly given an undisclosed fine. John Hackworth reportedly added, according to a tweet from CSN’s Ryan Bright, “that the situation was not deemed serious and was a simple mistake. No further discipline.” And, to a certain someone out there, believe me, no further coverage, too.

In further “Where’s Michael Orozco Fiscal” news, this report from MLSsoccer.com says, “American forward Jamel Johnson is currently in Mexico on a 10-day trial at Pachuca and is training with the first team alongside fellow countryman and trialist DaMarcus Beasley” but makes no mention of the former Union defender.

Local

According to the club’s website, Juventus will use Philadelphia as their base when they come to the US for three friendlies between July 19th and August 1. One friendly  has been confirmed against Club America, to take place at Citi Field in New York. Could Juventus be the third Union friendly of the season, following Everton on July 20 and Real Madrid on July 23? The Union host Colorado on July 29…

Harrisburg makes it three in a row with a 4–1 win over Dayton.

Following a 1–1 draw on the road with Bermuda Hogges Saturday night, Ocean City defeated New York Cosmos 1–0 in an exhibition game on Staten Island on Wednesday night. Ocean City host the Cosmos on July 6.

YSC Sports and the Philadelphia Union Juniors will host “Passback Day” on Sunday, June 12 from 11am-2pm at YSC Sports in Wayne.

The Gifford Rec Center on 575 Tomlinson Road in the Bustleton section of Philadelphia will be having their second annual summer soccer camp June 27-July 1. Click here for registration information. (Select “British Soccer Summer Camps” and enter zip code 19116.)

MLS

Columbus Crew came from behind to defeat Real Salt Lake 2–1 on Wednesday night with the Crew’s Josh Gardner scoring his first goal since 2006. RSL’s next stop is PPL Park on Saturday.

Speaking of Columbus, Crew defender Josh Williams has been suspended for 10 games after testing positive for the banned performance enhancing  substance methandienone metabolites. Williams reportedly purchased an over the counter nutritional supplement that contained the banned substance.

Elsewhere

FIFA will meet with Puerto Rico’s two top soccer officials in Miami as part of the on going CONCACAF bribery investigation. Puerto Rico federation president Eric Labrador said, “I can categorically say that I have not committed any irregularity nor we, as a federation, got involved in any bribery scheme.” The Puerto Rico federation gave FIFA a check for $40,000 earlier in the month, which is the figure Chuck Blazer says former FIFA presidential candidate Mohamed Bin Hammam used to bribe a number of Caribbean Football Union officials.

Nine K-League players are among the 12 people indicted by South Korean prosecutors as a result of a match fixing invesitigation.
The combined revenue of Premiership clubs for the 2010-2011 season was more than £2 billion. That’s more than $3.28 billion in American money.

2 Comments

  1. I agree with your 6 ballot selections completely.

    The ‘media’ selections were so awful, it looks like they just picked the 6 players whose names recognized faster. No Valdes? Seriously?

    • Ed Farnsworth says:

      I agree with you on selection based upon ease of recognition. We’ve seen it in various recent top ten lists, too, filled with names that are easily recognized rather than the result of real knowledge and insight.

      That said, aside from the Union, my knowledge of the rest of MLS is still lamentably poor. While I care much less about the Premiership since the advent of the Union (preceded by Reading’s relegation a few years back), I still know enough about MLS as a whole and I still have a wider knowledge of the players in the EPL than in our own. Most of what I know about MLS is focused through my love of the Union rather than an appreciation of the league.

      Anyway, fundamentally, I don’t understand why we need “experts” to help we the fans make our selections, especially unidentified “experts.” The perspective of gatekeepers doesn’t necessarily jive with those who want to pass through the gate.

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