Work in Sports
No 'Big Mama'
Top scorers not among MLS All-Star starters
ATLANTA (CNNSI.com) -- Major League Soccer's fans have spoken, and they've left the league's three top scorers out of the All-Star Game starting lineups.
On Thursday, MLS announced the starters for the 2000 All-Star contest, set for Columbus Crew Stadium on Saturday, July 29 (3:30 p.m. ET; ABC). The reserves will be announced on Monday.
Tampa Bay Mutiny midfielder Carlos Valderrama, now a five-time All-Star and two-time All-Star MVP, led the fan balloting with a total of 65,691 votes. The Colombian veteran currently leads MLS with 19 assists for the Central Division-leading Mutiny.
Mauricio Cienfuegos of the Los Angeles Galaxy earned 57,319 votes and was the leading vote-getter for players from the West. Cienfuegos' Galaxy teammate, Cobi Jones, led all MLS forwards with 54,698 votes, and MetroStars defender Lothar Matthäus topped all MLS defenders with 57,160 votes.
Matthäus earned the nod despite his tumultuous run in New York, where his contract status remains cloudy.
Kansas City Wizards' goalkeeper Tony Meola, who has set an MLS season record with 13 shutouts, led the netminders with 47,494 votes.
Missing from the starting lineups are the league's three top scorers this year: the Mutiny's Mamadou "Big Mama" Diallo, the Crew's Dante Washington and the Burn's Jason Kreis -- last year's league MVP.
Valderrama, Cienfuegos and Jones are three of seven players who were looking to make their fifth appearance in an MLS All-Star Game. Marco Etcheverry (D.C. United), Brian McBride (Columbus Crew), Preki (Kansas City Wizards) and Jeff Agoos (D.C. United) are the other four players looking to equal that feat. Only McBride, who has missed seven games with a fractured cheekbone, was not voted in as a starter.
Seven starters will be making their first All-Star appearance: forwards Ante Razov (Chicago Fire) and Adolfo Valencia (MetroStars); midfielders Khodadad Azizi (San Jose Earthquakes) and Clint Mathis (MetroStars); defenders Greg Vanney (Los Angeles Galaxy) and Matthäus; and goalkeeper Mike Ammann (MetroStars).
Eight of the 12 MLS teams are represented in the two starting lineups. Fans of the Eastern Division leading MetroStars and the Galaxy were the most active in voting, with a total of nine players from these teams in the starting lineups.
The MetroStars, who have the best record of all the East teams, lead the league with five starters: Valencia, Mathis, Ammann, Mattthäus and midfielder Mark Chung. Los Angeles, currently third in the league in points, will field Jones, Cienfuegos, Vanney and defender Robin Fraser in the West's first 11.
Kansas City, the most successful team in MLS during the first half of the season, is represented by Meola and Preki. Central Division leader Tampa Bay has two players in the starting slots (Valderrama, Steve Ralston). Despite their fall to the bottom of the league standings, defending MLS Cup Champion D.C. United has four players slated to start (Etcheverry, Agoos, forward Jamie Moreno and defender Eddie Pope).
Two teams -- the San Jose Earthquakes and the Colorado Rapids -- have only one representative in the starting lineup. Iranian midfielder Azizi will travel to Columbus representing San Jose, despite having notched just one goal and four assists in 12 games.
Defender Marcelo Balboa represents the Rapids. Columbus, Dallas, Miami and New England are not represented in the starting lineups, but are hopeful that the coaches will name their players to the squad as reserves.
The reserves will be chosen by West coach Bob Gansler and East coach Octavio Zambrano. Gansler earned the honor of coaching the West squad by leading the Wizards to the best record in the West through July 8. Zambrano, who coached the MLS World All-Stars in 1998, led the MetroStars to the best record of East teams before the cutoff date.
With MLS' new three-division alignment in 2000, the 12 teams were divided into East and West squads for the All-Star Game. Players from D.C., the MetroStars, Miami, New England, Columbus and Tampa Bay will make up the East club, while players from Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Kansas City, Los Angeles and San Jose complete the West team.