The MLS All-Stars, featuring the D.C. United trio of Dwayne De Rosario, Chris Pontius and coach Ben Olsen, are set to take on UEFA Champions League winner Chelsea FC on Wednesday (8:30 p.m., ESPN2) at PPL Park in Chester, Pa.
For De Rosario, a seven-time All-Star, it’s a familiar opportunity. Pontius, a first-time selection, is experiencing something new. To Olsen, it’s a little bit of both. My story on the threesome is in Wednesday’s paper. (If you missed them, you can also check out my features on De Rosario and Pontius from earlier this month, and my in-depth profile of Olsen from March.)
Wednesday’s print edition also includes my All-Star notebook, which features Frank Lampard’s opinion on the growth of American soccer, Landon Donovan and Thierry Henry’s take on the All-Star Game’s format, and comments from Graham Zusi and Kyle Beckerman, two All-Stars with ties to the D.C. area.
NEWS AND NOTES
Here are some more items from Philadelphia:
— David Beckham missed both days of training for the All-Stars while in London fulfilling his ambassador duties ahead of the Summer Olympics, but he still is expected to play Wednesday before flying back across the Atlantic for Friday’s opening ceremony.
— Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo said Spanish striker Fernando Torres, the leading scorer at Euro 2012, will not play in the All-Star Game after joining the tour Monday.
— Philadelphia Union midfielder Michael Farfan was added Tuesday to the All-Star roster. Olsen said he wanted an extra player to keep on the bench until late in the contest, basically as insurance should an injury occur after wholesale substitutions had already been made.
— United assistant coaches Chad Ashton, Pat Onstad and Josh Wolff will join Olsen on the sideline Wednesday night. Union interim coach John Hackworth also is a part of the All-Star staff.
Here is the lineup I see Olsen rolling out against Chelsea:
Jimmy Nielsen; Steven Beitashour, Jay DeMerit, Aurelien Collin, Justin Morrow; Graham Zusi, Osvaldo Alonso, Dwayne De Rosario, Landon Donovan; Thierry Henry, Chris Wondolowski
Bench: Dan Kennedy, Carlos Valdes, Ramiro Corrales, Kyle Beckerman, David Beckham, Chris Pontius, Michael Farfan, Eddie Johnson
This is the starting 11 Olsen tested in a shadow soccer drill at the end of training Tuesday. A late arrival, Beckham seems poised for a second-half cameo, though a start wouldn’t be shocking considering he apparently is flying from London and back just to play in this game.
The only player out of position is Zusi, who plays centrally for Kansas City but is set to man the right flank Wednesday. With so many playmakers on the roster, someone had to slide out wide, and Zusi is a natural candidate considering he has played there before for the U.S. national team.