Scheduling conflicts may have played some obstacles for Bruce Arena’s choices to shore up the MLS All-Star team, but the Galaxy coach on Monday asserted he is confident with the group he’s selected to face powerhouse Manchester United.
Arena and Houston Dynamo coach Dominic Kinnear – who will serve as Arena’s assistant in the match – named their 11 additional players to the MLS All-Star roster on Monday, along with MLS Commissioner Don Garber’s two commissioner’s picks.
READ: MLS All-Star roster set
The MLS All-Stars will take on Manchester United on July 28 at Reliant Stadium in Houston.
Arena said a number of elements affected the final roster decisions, but that scheduling for the CONCACAF Champions League effectively disallowed any players from the Seattle Sounders, who play on July 28. Both the Galaxy and Toronto FC play on July 27.
LA’s Landon Donovan, Edson Buddle, Omar Gonzalez, and Donovan Ricketts were selected to the First XI, as was Toronto FC star Dwayne De Rosario. Arena said selecting any more players from either team would “really handcuff us” in figuring out the roster.
“We have five players playing on Tuesday, and we don’t know the outcome of the games Tuesday on the players, physically,” Arena said. “Therefore, they’d be an unknown Wednesday in trying to piece together at the last minute the First XI and also the roles of the reserves.”
“At the end of the day,” Arena said, “the bottom line is we want to win this game.”
Arena stressed that the 13 players selected Monday – which include former All-Stars Nick Rimando, Jonathan Bornstein, Wilman Conde, Brad Davis, Shalrie Joseph and Juan Pablo Angel – should have the depth to succeed against Manchester United, who wrap up their tour of the United States and Canada with the All-Star date in Houston.
Houston Dynamo veteran Brian Ching and MLS all-time leading scorer Jaime Moreno were also named to the roster by way of selections by Commissioner Garber.
Arena did not expound on which players were left off, but added that Seattle’s Champions League obligations for July 28 against Salvadoran side Metapán meant the Sounders would not have representation on the 23-man roster.
“They have a very important Champions League game on Wednesday, and the Sounders believe that game is important, as do the LA Galaxy and Toronto,” Arena said. “We think Champions League is a vital competition for our league, and it’s the job of these clubs to win … and hopefully move forward in group play. Obviously with Seattle playing Wednesday, we really could not consider their players for this game.”
The league’s inactive roster of All-Stars – a group of eight players who were the next-highest vote getters in their positions during fan voting – is expected to be released on July 26.
Arena said he will be forced to make some lineup tweaks due a potentially top-heavy team of forwards, and that players like Donovan, De Rosario, Davis and first-time All-Star Sebastien Le Toux could see time on the outside flanks.
He also expects to face adjustments to accommodate a lineup with four defenders on the back line, and added that the selection of the Chivas USA and U.S. national team fixture Bornstein adds an essential outside back to the mix.
“He affords us to have a defender who can play at both left back and center back, and that’s the reason for his selection,” Arena said of Bornstein. “Very few people question his abilities, the kind of year he’s having and the kind of World Cup he had. I think he’s a great addition to our roster.”