Quaranta youngest All-Star in any sport
ATLANTA (CNNSI.com) -- Sixteen-year-old D.C. United forward Santino Quaranta is the youngest All-Star ever in major U.S. professional sports, according to MLS research.
Major League Baseball and the National Football League have never had a teenage All-Star or Pro Bowler. The NBA and NHL have each had teenage All-Stars, but Quaranta will become the youngest player ever to compete in an All-Star Game when he suits up for the East squad at Spartan Stadium in San Jose on Saturday.
In addition to Quaranta, San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Landon Donovan (19) and Chicago Fire midfielder DaMarcus Beasley (19) will start in the MLS All-Star Game. D.C. United's Bobby Convey (18) was selected by the fans to start but recently underwent hernia surgery and will miss the game. No teenagers have ever been named to an MLS All-Star team prior to 2001.
(NOTE: To be drafted in the NFL, a player must be a college junior, eliminating any teenagers. Research was conducted with information supplied by the respective league's PR departments last week.)
FIVE PLAYERS BECOME SIX-TIME ALL-STARS: Only five players will have the opportunity to appear in their sixth MLS All-Star Game. The five players who appeared in the first five All-Star Games and were named to the 2001 team are Jeff Agoos (San Jose), Mauricio Cienfuegos (Los Angeles), Cobi Jones (Los Angeles), Brian McBride (Columbus) and Preki (Miami).
D.C. United's Marco Etcheverry and Colorado's Marcelo Balboa were also was selected to all six All-Star teams, but they all missed one game each due to injury. Preki, the 1999 MLS All-Star MVP, will be the lone MLS player to physically start all six MLS All-Star Games.
THE ALL-STAR'S INTERNATIONAL FLAVOR: The MLS All-Star Game will feature players from 14 nations who speak 10 different languages (English, Serbian, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Russian, German, French, Polish, Ukrainian). There are players from the U.S., Argentina (Pablo Mastroeni*, Ariel Graziani*), Bolivia (Marco Etcheverry), Brazil (Caté), Colombia (John Wilmar Perez, Carlos Llamosa*, Diego Serna, Diego Gutierrez*), Czech Republic (Lubos Kubik), El Salvador (Mauricio Cienfuegos, Ronald Cerritos), England (Ian Bishop and East coach Ray Hudson), Honduras (Alex Pineda Chacon), Mexico (Luis Hernández), Scotland (John Spencer), Senegal (Mamadou Diallo), Yugoslavia (Preki*), Ukraine (Dema Kovalenko).
* Graziani is a naturalized citizen of Ecuador; Llamosa, Mastroeni, Gutierrez and Preki are naturalized U.S. citizens.
MIKE PETKE AND MAMADOU DIALLO TEAM UP: MetroStars defender Mike Petke and Tampa Bay Mutiny forward Mamadou Diallo have already played on the same squad in last year's All-Star Game in Columbus. After that midsummer event, the two MLS stars would proceed to engage in memorable physical battles, and Petke has proved to be one of the few defenders who could match the athletic prowess of the Senegalese forward.
The combat has often turned emotional, and the latest incident involved an April 21 foul by Diallo on Petke which resulted in the 2000 Scoring Champion's sending-off. The two, however, now seem to have gotten over the past. They faced off again on July 4 in a clean battle as Diallo netted a goal.
ALL-STAR SKILLS CHALLENGE PRECEDES BIG SHOW: For the fourth consecutive year, Major League Soccer's stars will gather to display their skills and thrill fans at the MLS/Pepsi All-Star Skills Challenge. Slated for Spartan Stadium at 7:30 p.m. (PT) on Thursday, July 26, the Skills Challenge will again pit a team of All-Stars from the league's Eastern, Western and Central Divisions against each other in six different events that test ball skills, technique, speed strength and performance under pressure. The contest will be shown via tape delay on ESPN2 on Friday, July 28 at 9:30 p.m. (PT).
NOEL KENNY TO REFEREE HIS FIRST ALL-STAR GAME: Noel Kenny, a 42-year-old native of Ireland, will referee his first All-Star Game on Saturday. He will be joined by senior assistant referee Scott Weyland and junior assistant referee Roger Itaya. Kevin Terry will serve as the fourth official.
Kenny, who was the fourth official in the 2000 All-Star Game, has refereed in MLS for five years and has officiated high-profile exhibitions including the MetroStars vs. Bayern Munich friendly in May. A 10-year referee in the Irish second division, Kenny has three brothers who play professional soccer including one, Mark Kenny, who enjoyed limited first-team soccer with Liverpool in England and now serves in the ranks of Shamrock Rovers in the Irish Premier League.
ALL-STAR ALMA MATERS: In the battle of Alma Maters, Indiana University takes the honors with Dallas midfielder Chad Deering, Chicago midfielder Dema Kovalenko and Columbus midfielder Mike Clark playing in this year's midsummer classic. Traditional college soccer powers St. Louis University (Brian McBride, Matt McKeon), UCLA (Cobi Jones, Nick Rimando) and the University of Virginia (Jeff Agoos, Ben Olsen) each have two alumni in this year's All-Star Game.
YOUTH AND VETERANS JOIN FORCES: The West All-Stars hold the edge in age with an average age of 28.13, while the East All-Stars average 27.01 years. Miami midfielder Preki checks in as the oldest All-Star at 38. Chicago forward DaMarcus Beasley is the youngest West All-Star at 19, while Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder Mauricio Cienfuegos is the oldest West All-Star at 33.
FIRST-TIMERS: Together with the first four teenagers ever selected to an All-Star Game, another 18 players will also be taking part in their first All-Star Game, bringing the number of first-timers to a total of 22 out of 45 players. The number includes successful newcomers (John Spencer, Caté, Alex Pineda Chacon and Landon Donovan), youth prospects (Santino Quaranta, Nick Rimando and Tim Howard) and consistent contributors: (C.J. Brown, Diego Gutierrez, Manny Lagos, Jesse Marsch and Steve Jolley).
East (11): GK Nick Rimando, GK Tim Howard, D Steve Jolley, M Bobby Convey, M Ian Bishop, M Jim Rooney, M John Wilmar Perez, M Cate, M/F Santino Quaranta, F Diego Serna, F Alex Pineda Chacon.
West (11): GK Joe Cannon, D C.J. Brown, D Troy Dayak, D Jesse Marsch, M Diego Gutierrez, M Dema Kovalenko, M Manny Lagos, M DaMarcus Beasley, M Landon Donovan, M Chad Deering, F John Spencer.
MIAMI LEADS WITH EIGHT ALL-STARS: The following is the breakdown of the 45 All-Star selections per team -- 22 from the East and 23 West players: Miami Fusion (8), Chicago Fire (7), San Jose Earthquakes (6), D.C. United (5), MetroStars (4), Dallas Burn (4), Columbus Crew (3), Los Angeles Galaxy (3), Colorado Rapids (2), New England Revolution (1), Tampa Bay Mutiny (1), Kansas City Wizards (1).
WORLD CUP PLAYERS ON DISPLAY IN SAN JOSE: Seven MLS All-Stars are key members of the U.S. national team that sits on the doorstep of qualifying for the 2002 World Cup. The U.S. (4-1-1, 13 pts.) is tied with Costa Rica for first place in the final qualifying group for the tournament in South Korea and Japan.
The heart of the U.S. is its central defense, where MLS stalwarts Carlos Llamosa (Miami) and Jeff Agoos (San Jose) reside. Defender Eddie Pope (D.C. United) has also seen significant action for the U.S. in 2001. Defensive midfielder Chris Armas (Chicago) has started every qualifier for the U.S. and is one of the foundation players for Bruce Arena.
However, the Washington Post reported Tuesday that Pope would miss the All-Star Game due to a family illness.
In addition, national team veterans Cobi Jones (Los Angeles) and Brian McBride (Columbus) each are likely starting choices during the next stretch of qualifying which begins in September. If not for injury, then All-Star starters Clint Mathis (MetroStars) and Ben Olsen (D.C. United) would play key roles for the U.S. Mathis was the U.S.' top scorer in World Cup qualifying before suffering a torn ACL in June.
All-Stars Mamadou Diallo (Tampa Bay) and Alex Pineda Chacon (Miami) have played roles with their national sides in the past. Diallo's national side, Senegal, has already qualified for the World Cup, while Pineda Chacon's Honduras is locked in a battle for the third spot in CONCACAF -- riding high after beating Brazil on Monday in a Copa America quarterfinal.
THE COACHES -- TWO METHODS, SAME PRODUCT: Charismatic Ray Hudson (Miami) and industrious Bob Bradley (Chicago) have traveled different paths in earning berths as the head coaches for the 2001 All-Star Game.
Hudson's move from the television booth to the sidelines has been well documented. The former Newcastle and Ft. Lauderdale Strikers star took over the Fusion on an interim basis in 2000 and overhauled the roster in the offseason after permanently earning the job. Hudson's flamboyant style has won over the soccer fans of South Florida, while his player personnel decisions have netted the Fusion All-Stars Alex Pineda Chacon, Ian Bishop and Carlos Llamosa.
Bradley honed his craft as an assistant coach to Bruce Arena with D.C. United in 1996-97 after a successful spell as the head coach at Princeton. The veteran coach led the Fire to an MLS Cup championship as an expansion team in 1998. He has already won two U.S. Open Cup (1998, 2000) titles in three seasons. Bradley has molded promising youngsters such as Dema Kovalenko and DaMarcus Beasley into top MLS talents while finding getting the most out of players unwanted elsewhere in MLS, such as Jesse Marsch, Diego Gutierrez (both All-Stars) and Eric Wynalda. A straightforward, no-nonsense type, Bradley will be an All-Star head coach for the first time.
WORLD CLASS ALL-STARS: Fourteen current All-Stars have 20 or more caps under their belt. On the American side, Los Angeles Galaxy forward Cobi Jones leads the pack with 139 matches (and 14 goals) for the U.S. He is followed by San Jose Earthquakes defender Jeff Agoos (111 appearances, 3 goals), Brian McBride of the Columbus Crew (48/14), Eddie Pope of D.C. United (40/4), Chris Armas of the Chicago Fire (30/2), Preki of the Miami Fusion (26/4), Carlos Llamosa of the Miami Fusion (21/0) and 12 others with less than 20 appearances.
Mexico's all-time leading scorer Luis Hernández of the Los Angeles Galaxy leads MLS' international contingent with 76 caps and 37 goals. D.C. United's Marco Etcheverry retired from the Bolivian national team having played 75 full internationals. Galaxy midfield maestro Mauricio Cienfuegos and has played more than 70 full internationals for El Salvador. The same can be said of legendary Honduran midfielder Alex Pineda Chacon of the Fusion. The national team numbers for Senegalese star Mamadou Diallo of the Tampa Bay Mutiny read: 46 caps, 21 goals.
Meanwhile, there's Dallas Burn star Ariel Graziani with the Ecuadorian side: 34 caps, 16 goals. Columbus Crew midfielder John Wilmar Perez has 23 caps with Colombia. Finally, Scottish forward John Spencer compiled 14 caps with his national side during a career that has seen him play for Glasgow Rangers in Scotland and Chelsea in England.
JURGEN KLINSMANN TO TAKE COIN TOSS: Former German national team captain and the 1990 World Cup champion, Jurgen Klinsmann, will be on hand in San Jose to take the coin toss before the All-Star Game. One of the greatest forwards ever will follow the match in the commissioner's suite and then will be part of a halftime interview on ABC Sports. There will also be opportunities for other media to interview the former English Premier League, Bundesliga and Serie A star.
MADE TO BE BROKEN: Miami Fusion midfielder Preki is the all-time leading scorer in MLS All-Star Games, having recorded four goals and five assists for 13 points. He will start Saturday's contest looking to add to his impressive total. Los Angeles Cobi Jones (three goals, five assists) is one player who could surpass Preki for the leading scorer honors with a big contest at Spartan Stadium. Columbus striker Brian McBride (three goals, 10 points) also ranks among the all-time leaders.
Tampa Bay striker Mamadou Diallo (two goals, five points) did all of his scoring in the 2000 All-Star game. He shares the single-game scoring record with Preki, who had two goals and an assist in the 1999 All-Star contest.
Chicago Fire goalkeeper Zach Thornton (seven saves all-time) can make a run at Tony Meola's all-time All-Star Game record for saves with a productive afternoon. Meola has recorded 11 career saves in All-Star play.
THE LOCAL BOYS: The San Jose Earthquakes, after finishing last in MLS in 2000, are now among the league's top teams, sporting the third best record in MLS at 10-4-5 (35 pts.).
Led by head coach Frank Yallop, who with key acquisitions has orchestrated the renaissance, the Quakes have already surpassed their win total of 2000. The key players in the turnaround have been recognized by both fans and coaches with All-Star selections: Goalkeeper Joe Cannon owns the best goals-against-average in the league; defenders Troy Dayak and Jeff Agoos (the leading vote-getter), have made the central defense nearly impenetrable; midfielder Manny Lagos, one of the most technical players in all of MLS, has extended his fine form of 2000; Landon Donovan has confirmed lofty expectations as one of the brightest talents in the U.S.; and Ronald Cerritos has made a strong comeback from an injury-plagued 2000 campaign.
TROY DAYAK MAKES AN ALL-STAR COMEBACK: After suffering what some doctors believed to be a career-ending neck/back injury that kept him away from MLS since 1997, Troy Dayak made his comeback in 2001 with his hometown Earthquakes and has proved as durable as ever. Dayak has started every Quakes game this season (19), logging the second most minutes on the team. In what has turned into a storybook season, Dayak netted the Earthquakes' first goal of the season in Los Angeles on April 7 and the team's first goal of the year at Spartan Stadium a week later.