D.C. United coach Ben Olsen on Sunday discovered 11 of the tools he’ll have at his disposal when he leads the MLS All-Stars against Chelsea FC later this month. Among the players voted by fans to the First XI: English icon David Beckham, French star Thierry Henry, U.S. national team stalwart Landon Donovan, MLS leading scorer Chris Wondolowski and the reigning league MVP, United captain Dwayne De Rosario.
“The All-Star thing is kind of interesting,” Olsen said Monday after an upbeat training session at RFK Stadium. “Everybody has their own points of view, but there are a lot of good players in this league. You could pick three or four starting 11s and make a case for them. It’s fun for people to play fantasy soccer. I’m playing it myself right now going into this. We’ll see what we end up with.
“Ultimately, it’s a game for the fans to enjoy, right? But at the same time, we’re always on a stage, MLS. When we play teams like Chelsea, your average fan is going to tune in. They don’t know you only have two days of preparation and it’s just a group of guys you’re throwing together. But saying that, it’s important to try to get a result because that matters. Those results against great teams matter to our public. So we’ll try our best. Obviously it’s a tough task, but we’ll put on as good a team and as balanced a team as possible and we’ll try to get a result.”
The match will be held July 25 at PPL Park, the Philadelphia Union’s home stadium in Chester, Pa.
DE ROSARIO RELISHES 7TH ALL-STAR NOD
For De Rosario, his selection to the First XI makes him a seven-time All-Star, but the veteran still appreciates the opportunity to take part in the high-profile spectacle.
“It’s such a big thing in American sports, when you get selected as an All-Star,” De Rosario said. “Every player wants to be a part of it. It gives me the opportunity to play with some of the players I admire in this league, so I feel very honored when I am selected.”
So who from United could join De Rosario in the All-Star Game when Olsen and commissioner Don Garber round out the roster? The leading candidate is midfielder-forward Chris Pontius, whose nine goals are tied for fourth in the league.
“If it comes, it comes,” Pontius said with a smile. “It is what it is. That’s all I have to say.”
CLUB TO INTRODUCE NEW INVESTORS
United owner Will Chang on Tuesday will introduce new ownership partners in a news conference at the W Hotel downtown. According to an ESPN report last week, the new investors will be Philadelphia 76ers minority owners Erick Thohir and Jason Levien. Also taking part in the event will be United president Kevin Payne.
“Obviously, if we can get something done with a stadium, then it affects us,” Pontius said. “But it’s not going to affect the way we play or anything like that.”
Added De Rosario: “We definitely are interested to see who is taking over. We know a lot of work is being put into the shaping and the success of this club. Obviously, there are a lot of things that have been addressed that we’d like to see changed and stuff like that, so this new ownership will come in and help speed that process.”