Yesterday, the fan polling for the MLS All-Star game in San Jose on July 28 against English Premier League side Arsenal concluded at 3:00 p.m. ET. The fans only voted for Orlando City captain Kaká to be included in the squad as Joe Bendik, Brek Shea, and Cyle Larin all remain up on the list for coach Dominic Kinnear. According to the rules, Kinnear has the option to select players from the Fan Starting XI, two MLS Commissioner's picks, and players who received at least two votes in MLS player-only voting.
Initially, Orlando City had also Kevin Molino, Seb Hines, Cristian Higuita, and Darwin Cerén, named to the MLS All-Star pool as every team sends eight players to be potentially named as All-Stars. Orlando is currently third in the number of players in the pool with four eligible, behind the MLS East-leading Philadelphia Union having seven of their eight players still in the pool (Sorry, Vincent Nogueira) and All-Star Game hosts San Jose having six.
Tentatively, as of 11 a.m. on July 3 the Fan Starting XI looked like this:
GK - Andre Blake (PHI)
D - Keegan Rosenberry (PHI)
D - Matt Besler (SKC)
D - Ashley Cole (LAG)
M - Kaká (ORL)
M - Andrea Pirlo (NYC)
M - Darlington Nagbe (POR)
F - Sebastian Giovinco (TOR)
F - Didier Drogba (MON)
F - David Villa (NYC)
Not terrible, whole bunch of names up there, but altogether nothing unexpected. Now, let’s compare these players to Orlando, shall we?
Andre Blake: The Philadelphia Union keeper has three clean sheets in the 2016 season and has 53 saves on 24 goals against.
Joe Bendik: Big Game Joe has one clean sheet and 51 saves on 25 goals against.
This one is pretty close, Philadelphia has played two more games than Orlando and Blake has only had to face 77 shots compared to Bendik’s 76. Philly’s defense is fairly decent. Meanwhile, Orlando has started Rafael Ramos 10 times on it’s back line. The fans probably got this one right, but I’d be shocked to see Bendik not get selected to the squad as well.
So, we won’t go over all the selections for this position, just the third-place vote, and surprise, it’s the Los Angeles Galaxy’s big summer signing to their back line.
Ashley Cole: 13 Games Started, 0 Goals, 1 SOG, 1,142 Minutes played, two yellow cards, two red cards
Brek Shea: 14 Games Started, 1 Goal, 2 SOG, 1,235 Minutes played, five yellow cards, 0 red cards
Now, look. We’ve been over before how Brek Shea might not be a good choice at left back and is probably better suited up the wing, seeing as how his move to left back was being facilitated by him playing more with the USMNT. If he’s not playing with the national team, it’s this really bad ouroboros that keeps him playing out of position and not playing to his full abilities. Ashley Cole, on the other hand, has no real excuse as to why he is the way he is. Left back is his natural position, watch this:
looooool Ashley Cole! pic.twitter.com/Obf90rE1Tu— B Larsen | Arsenal (@BLarsenAFC1886) March 7, 2016
Now, if the theme to Curb Your Enthusiasm didn’t start playing immediately when Luciano Acosta simply skips around him and Cole crumples to the ground, I’ve now put the thought in your head, and you’re free to watch it over and over again until the end of time, laughing joyously as you do so. Remember, Ashley Cole cheated on his wife and nearly crashed his car because Arsenal were "only" willing to pay him £55,000 a week instead of £60,000. Take every L forever, Ashley Cole.
So, we already have Kaká in and he’s No. 1 on the list. Between him, Andrea Pirlo, Darlington Nagbe, and Giovani dos Santos, one of those isn’t like the others. (Pssst, it’s the one with one goal and five assists in 16 games.) Looking at you, Pirlo.
Sure, "No Pirlo, No Party" and Darlington Nagbe only has one goal and three assists through 11 games, but the difference those five games makes is eye-opening. So, let’s replace Pirlo with an Orlando City attacking midfielder who has six goals and five assists in Kevin Molino, who would actually be only second to Dos Santos in scoring among midfielders who were voted in. But, alas, Molino isn’t even in the pool of eligible players and #MolinoMania won’t be running wild in San Jose this year. Sad!
When you look at the top three in fan voting and notice that Didier Drogba is at third despite only starting eight of the 10 games he’s played and his ducking any team that plays on turf, your initial reaction should be a long, drawn out sigh followed by the following: [rolls up newspaper] [swats wildly at nothing] Stop it, MLS fans. Bad. You’ve been bad. Drogba has five goals and five assists and Cyle Larin eight goals and three assists. Larin has also only taken 34 shots compared to Drogba’s 41. So, it’s not as if him playing in a few extra games is the primary reason for him scoring more.
Larin is still in the forwards pool, as is Bradley Wright-Phillips. It’ll be interesting to see who Kinnear selects up top.
Again, as it stands, Kaká is Orlando’s only All-Star, but with a few options left in the pool Orlando City has the opportunity to be well represented come the end of the month.