The MLS has just revealed the fan’s First XI with soccer legends David Beckham, Thierry Henry and Landon Donovan making the cut. The latter’s inclusion in this list is a historic one as it marks a record 12th inclusion in an MLS All-Star team. The First XI includes the players fans voted in for the squad that will be facing current UEFA Champions League winners Chelsea on July 25 at PPL Park, home of the Philadelphia Union, in Chester, PA .
Donovan, who has been selected for the All-Star game every season since he debuted as a teenager in 2001, passes MLS stalwart and former US national team defender Eddie Pope, who appeared in 11 midsummer showcases during his career.
The First XI received the most votes at their respective positions from combined fan voting on three platforms – online at MLSsoccer.com, via text message and via Twitter. The ballot consisted of six players from each club, as chosen by a panel of media members.
Sporting Kansas City boast the most First XI selections of any team with three, including goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen, who won the AT&T text voting. Wondolowski was the top overall vote-getter across the three platforms.
The First XI will not necessarily be the starting lineup for the All-Stars when they take on Chelsea. D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen, who was given the All-Star head coaching job after original selection Peter Nowak parted ways with the Philadelphia Union earlier this season, will select the starters based on player availability and tactical considerations.
Two selections by MLS Commissioner Don Garber and the complete game day roster will be announced on July 15 on ESPN during halftime of the New York Red Bulls vs. Seattle Sounders game.
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2012 MLS All-Star First XI
Goalkeeper: Jimmy Nielsen (Sporting Kansas City)
Defenders: Steven Beitashour (San Jose Earthquakes), Aurélien Collin (Sporting Kansas City), Jay DeMerit(Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Heath Pearce (New York Red Bulls)
Midfielders: David Beckham (LA Galaxy), Dwayne De Rosario (D.C. United), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy),Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
Forwards: Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
Bios for 2012 MLS All-Star First XI:
(Listed by position in a 4-4-2 formation)
Jimmy Nielsen (GK)
Sporting Kansas City
Born: August 6, 1977
Nielsen has led his team to a 10-5-3 record through Sporting Kansas City’s first 18 matches of 2012, and is ranked first in the league for goalkeeper wins (10) and goals against average (min. of 10 games) with 0.94. Since joining the league in 2010, Nielsen has recorded 23 shutouts and a 32-26-19 record. Sporting Kansas City’s captain began his professional career with his hometown club AaB Aalborg, helping the team to the 1999 Danish Superliga championship. He was also named Danish Goalkeeper of the Year in 1998 and 2004. This is Nielsen’s second MLS All-Star team selection.
Steven Beitashour (D)
San Jose Earthquakes
Born: February 1, 1987
A Bay Area product and a third-year pro, Beitashour has emerged as one of the top right backs in MLS. This year, he has helped lead the Earthquakes to the league’s best record (11-4-3) through July 6, contributing six assists in 18 games – tied for fourth-best in MLS. Selected in the second round of the 2010 MLS SuperDraft out of San Diego State, Beitashour led the Quakes with seven assists in 2011. This is his first MLS All-Star selection.
Aurélien Collin (D)
Sporting Kansas City
Born: March 8, 1986
A tenacious central defender, Collin has anchored Sporting’s defense this season starting all 18 matches of 2012, while scoring three goals. He joined Sporting Kansas City as a trialist last March, and after signing with the club, he appeared in 23 games, starting 21, and contributed three goals in 2011. The Frenchman has played professionally in the Scottish Premier League (2007-08), Greek Super League (2008-09) and the Portuguese top flight (2009-11). This is his first MLS All-Star Team selection.
Jay DeMerit (D)
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Born: December 4, 1979
DeMerit has helped lead the Whitecaps to a league-leading nine shutouts and an 8-4-6 record this season, playing in 17 games and scoring one goal. DeMerit became the Whitecaps’ first MLS signing and captain in November 2010, coming to Vancouver after six seasons with England’s Watford FC. The US international appeared in every match of his country’s campaign at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. This is his first MLS All-Star team selection.
Heath Pearce (D)
New York Red Bulls
Born: August 13, 1984
Pearce, one of the elite defenders in MLS, is having a strong debut season with New York. Pearce first came to MLS in late 2009, signing with FC Dallas, where he played the bulk of the 2010 season at right back, and finished second on the team in assists (6). He then spent the 2011 and the first part of 2012 with Chivas USA before being sent to New York on May 17 in exchange for Juan Agudelo. His pro career began after three seasons at the University of Portland when he joined FC Nordsjælland of Denmark, then moved to German side Hansa Rostock. Pearce has represented the United States on 35 occasions. This is his third MLS All-Star team selection.
David Beckham (M)
Born: May 2, 1975
Beckham joined the LA Galaxy in 2007 after completing a championship season with Real Madrid. As of July 6, 2012, Beckham had three goals and five assists in 15 regular season games this year. Last season, Beckham helped the Galaxy win MLS Cup and claim a second consecutive Supporters’ Shield. For England’s national team, Beckham has appeared in 115 games, scoring 17 times. More than 50 of Beckham’s caps have come as the England captain. This is his third MLS All-Star selection.
Dwayne De Rosario (M)
Born: May 15, 1978
De Rosario, the 2011 Volkswagen MLS MVP and winner of the 2011 MLS Budweiser Golden Boot, finished last season with 16 goals and 12 assists. So far this year, he has five goals and a league-leading 10 assists while helping D.C. United achieve first place in the Eastern Conference at midseason with a 10-5-3 record as of July 6. In 2006, De Rosario scored the lone goal in the MLS All-Star game, a 1-0 win over Chelsea FC. De Rosario has 19 goals in 67 appearances for the Canadian national team. This is his seventh MLS All-Star team selection.
Landon Donovan (M)
Born: March 4, 1982
Donovan, the 2008 Golden Boot Winner and 2009 Volkswagen MLS MVP, has earned his league-record 12th consecutive All-Star selection dating back to 2001, his first season in the League. In 2011, Donovan captained the Galaxy to their third MLS Cup title – scoring the final’s only goal – and a second consecutive Supporters’ Shield. This season, Donovan has six goals and four assists in 15 games. Donovan has 143 caps for the US men’s national team and is the all-time leader in goals (49).
Graham Zusi (M)
Sporting Kansas City
Born: August 18, 1986
The 23rd overall pick in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft, Zusi secured his starting spot with Sporting Kansas City last season, notching five goals and a team-high seven assists. This season, Zusi has two goals for Sporting and is second in the league with assists (8) as of July 6. In his four seasons at the University of Maryland, Zusi helped the Terrapins win the national championship in 2005 and 2008. Earlier this year, Zusi earned his first two caps with the US men’s national team, scoring the game winner against Panama on Jan. 25. This is his first MLS All-Star team selection.
Thierry Henry (F)
New York Red Bulls
Born: August 17, 1977
Last year, the French World Cup champion shined in his first full season with the New York Red Bulls, scoring 14 goals and adding four assists in 26 games. This season, Henry has nine goals and five assists in 11 games. Henry’s pro career began in 1990 with AS Monaco (France), and included successful stints at Juventus (Italy), Arsenal (England) and FC Barcelona (Spain) before he joined the Red Bulls midway through 2010. Henry has 123 caps for France, and is the all-time leading scorer with 51 goals. This is his second MLS All-Star Team selection.
Chris Wondolowski (F)
San Jose Earthquakes
Born: January 28, 1983
The eight-year MLS veteran has established himself as one of the league’s top goal-scorers with 48 regular-season tallies since the start of 2010, more than any other player. The American striker led the Earthquakes in scoring in 2011 with 16 goals (tied for most in MLS) and had three assists. He won the MLS Golden Boot in 2010 with 18 goals, and has started 2012 strong, leading the league in goals with 14 in 16 games as of July 6, putting him on pace to tie or break the all-time single-season goals record of 27 set by Roy Lassiter in 1006. In 2012, Wondolowski earned his first call-up to the US national team, and has since appeared in eight games. This is his second MLS All-Star team selection.