The LA Galaxy, owners of the best record in MLS, had four players named to the MLS All-Star First XI today. Forwards Edson Buddle and Landon Donovan, defender Omar Gonzalez and goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts were all voted to the First XI by the fans, players, media and coaches/general managers to represent Major League Soccer in the annual All-Star Game. This is Donovan’s 10th consecutive All-Star Game selection, while Buddle and Ricketts are each making their second All-Star appearance. Gonzalez, the 2009 MLS Rookie of the Year, is a first-time selection.
The First XI, consisting of one goalkeeper, three defenders, five midfielders and two forwards, received the most votes at their respective positions from four groups – fans, players, media, and coaches/general managers. The Galaxy’s four players on the First XI are the most since FC Dallas had four players named to the 2005 All-Star First XI.
The All-Stars, who will be coached by Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena, will face 11-time English Premier League champion Manchester United on Wednesday, July 28 at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas. The game will kick off at 5:30 p.m. (PT) and can be seen live on ESPN2 and TeleFutura.
The First XI is not necessarily the starting lineup. Arena will select the starters based on player availability and tactical considerations. If First XI selections are unavailable due to injury, international duty or other commitments, Arena, in collaboration with host city head coach Dominic Kinnear of the Houston Dynamo, will select alternates for the game day roster, but all First XI players are All-Stars.
Donovan, the reigning MLS MVP and league leader in assists with 10, will make his record 10th All-Star appearance in Houston. The second leading scorer in Galaxy and the sixth leading scorer in league history, Donovan has one goal to go along with 10 assists in 10 games this season despite missing six weeks of action while with the U.S. National Team at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. In South Africa, he scored three goals to become the all-time U.S. leader in World Cup goals and appearances. The MVP of the 2001 All-Star Game, Donovan has been named to the All-Star Team in each of his 10 seasons in MLS. His six All-Star nominations, since joining the club in 2005, are the third most in Galaxy history, with only Cobi Jones (nine) and Mauricio Cienfuegos (seven) representing the Galaxy more often.
Joining Donovan in the First XI for the first time is Buddle. The 29-year-old made his All-Star Game debut in 2008, playing the final minutes of the All-Stars’ 3-2 win over West Ham. This season he leads the league with 10 goals despite missing six weeks of action while in South Africa with the U.S. National Team at the FIFA World Cup. Buddle, who is the eighth leading scorer in MLS history with 83 career goals, has a league-best four multi-goal games this season. In addition, he has scored nine of LA’s first 10 goals on the year before adding his 10th of the season in his first game back with the club following the World Cup.
Also earning his second All-Star nomination is Ricketts, who was named to the 2009 All-Star Team, though he did not play in the game. Now in his second season in MLS, Ricketts leads the League with 11 wins, nine shutouts and a 0.47 goals against average in 15 games this season. He has allowed more than one goal in a game just once and has two of the five longest shutout streaks in MLS this season. The Galaxy’s Defender of the Year in 2009, Ricketts has 21 wins over the last two seasons while his 0.82 career goals against average is the lowest in MLS history for a goalkeeper that has played more than 90 minutes.
One of the best young central defenders in the league, Gonzalez rounds out the Galaxy’s First XI quartet by making his first All-Star appearance in just his second year in the league. The 21-year-old has appeared in and started 49 of the Galaxy’s 50 regular season and postseason games since the start of last year, only missing this past weekend’s loss to New England because of a suspension. The 6-foot-5, 210 pound defender has formed one of the best central defense pairings in MLS alongside Gregg Berhalter, with the club allowing just four goals in their time on the field together. In the 15 games that Gonzalez played this season, the Galaxy have allowed just five goals, or 0.33 per game, which would be the best goals against average in MLS history. The 21-year-old has also added a goal this season, scoring the second goal in LA’s 4-0 win at Seattle on May 8.
Due to the Galaxy’s CONCACF Champions League Qualifying Round game against the Puerto Rico Islanders on Tuesday, July 27 – the day before the All-Star Game – Arena and all Galaxy players named to the 23-man All-Star Game squad will arrive in Houston on the day of the game and are scheduled to play limited minutes.
For more information about the LA Galaxy, please contact the club by calling 1-877-3GALAXY (342-5299) or by visiting www.lagalaxy.com.