The Washington Times - June 18, 2013, 10:55AM

With voting for this summer’s MLS All-Star game open to the fans, I figured I’d reveal the 11 players I believe deserve to start when AS Roma visit Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan., on July 31.

Here are the 11 players, as well as second and third teams, I think are most deserving based on a combination of track records and 2013 form:


GK Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake): The veteran shot-stopper has compiled a 0.93 goals against average while reeling off 47 saves, making him the only player in the top five for both statistics.

RB Zach Loyd (FC Dallas): An underestimated piece of league-leading Dallas’ defense, the 25-year-old is quietly establishing himself as perhaps the most reliable right back in MLS.

CB Omar Gonzalez (Los Angeles Galaxy): He’s made some mistakes this season, but this center back with Rookie of the Year, Defender of the Year and MLS Cup MVP honors on his resume remains an aerially dominant presence.

CB Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City): The reigning Defender of the Year has quickly burst onto the scene for club and country thanks to his anticipation, distribution and organizational savvy.

LB Corey Ashe (Houston Dynamo): The pickings are slim for standout left backs in MLS, but this onetime midfielder has used his pace and attacking quality to become a standout two-way player at the position.

RM Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City): After finishing second in the MVP vote last year, he has retained his title as the top playmaker in MLS, using his skill, vision and set piece service to tally three goals and five assists.

DM Osvaldo Alonso (Seattle Sounders): Is there a more fun player to watch in MLS? The Cuban sets the gold standard in defensive midfield, winning countless tackles while spraying accurate passes all over the pitch.

CM Will Johnson (Portland Timbers): He has been the centerpiece of coach Caleb Porter’s wildly successful implementation of a possession-oriented 4-3-3 formation, controlling the midfield while chipping in five goals.

LM Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy): After missing the season’s first month while on a self-imposed hiatus, the U.S. national team’s all-time leading scorer has slowly but surely rounded into form, notching three goals and three assists.

F Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls): At 35 years old, the global star has bagged six goals — several of the highlight-reel variety — while showing he still has plenty of magic left in those legs.

F Robbie Keane (Los Angeles Galaxy): Limited to six games because of injuries and Ireland national team duty, the hardest-working forward in MLS still has five goals and four assists.

Second Team

Jimmy Nielsen (Kansas City); DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle), Jose Goncalves (New England), Matteo Ferrari (Montreal), Justin Morrow (San Jose); Mike Magee (Chicago), Michel (Dallas), Diego Valeri (Portland), Brad Davis (Houston); Marco Di Vaio (Montreal), Jack McInerney (Philadelphia)

Third team

Clint Irwin (Colorado); Lee Young-Pyo (Vancouver), George John (Dallas), Jamison Olave (New York), Seth Sinovic (Kansas City); Sebastien Le Toux (Philadelphia), Patrice Bernier (Montreal), Tim Cahill (New York), Rodney Wallace (Portland); Federico Higuain (Columbus), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose)