NEW YORK (ORLANDO CITY SOCCER CLUB) - A reflection of skill and star power resonates throughout Major League Soccer's 26-man announced roster for the 2019 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target.
Comprised of MLS All-Star Fan XI presented by Target , two Commissioner's picks, and 13 selections by MLS All-Star head coach James O'Connor of Orlando City SC, this stacked roster will face 10-time La Liga champions Atlético de Madrid at Exploria Stadium in Orlando on Wednesday, July 31.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber has honored two players with his special selections in 19-year-old Paxton Pomykal, an FC Dallas academy product and U.S. U-20 National Team midfielder, along with Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando, who owns nearly every league record at his position ahead of his retirement at the end of this season.
The roster featuring rising talents, dynamic competitors, and highly accomplished superstars includes 12 previous MLS All-Stars and 14 debutants. Among the newcomers are Spanish international midfielder Alejandro Pozuelo (Toronto FC), with five goals and eight assists, and defender Romain Métanire (Minnesota United FC), whose outstanding play in his first MLS season has his club above the playoff line.
All-Star head coach O'Connor has named three additional forwards who all rank among the top 10 finishers in MLS this season, as added firepower to the already announced Fan XI front line of Zlatan Ibrahimović (LA Galaxy), Wayne Rooney (D.C. United), and leading scorer Carlos Vela (Los Angeles Football Club). Josef Martinez (Atlanta United), the single-season scoring record-holder, comes with the prolific finishing of all-time career goals leader Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), and 21-year-old Diego Rossi (LAFC), who has eight goals and three assists in his 16 games this season.
On the international scene, 14 countries are represented by this roster – the second most in MLS All-Star history – with 11 World Cup participants and eight players currently on national team duty. Concacaf Gold Cup participants include Andre Blake(Philadelphia Union, Jamaica), Jonathan dos Santos (LA Galaxy, Mexico), Kemar Lawrence (New York Red Bulls, Jamaica),Mark-Anthony Kaye (LAFC, Canada) and Walker Zimmerman (LAFC, USMNT), while Josef Martinez (Atlanta United, Venezuela) and Nicolás Lodeiro (Seattle Sounders FC, Uruguay) are competing in Copa América 2019.
Among teams contributing multiple players, Atlanta United lead all MLS clubs with five All-Stars, while LAFC comes in a close second with four, and the LA Galaxy have two.
As announced on Friday, the forwards picked for the MLS All-Star Fan XI presented by Target are: Carlos Vela (LAFC), who received the most votes from fans online at MLSsoccer.com and through the MLS app; Zlatan Ibrahimović (LA Galaxy), the EA SPORTS™ "More Than a Vote" Challenge winner; and Wayne Rooney (D.C. United). Brad Guzan was selected as the goalkeeper in the All-Star Fan XI, while the fans' choices on defense were Leandro Gonzalez Pirez ( Atlanta United), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC) and Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City). Midfielders in the Fan XI are Ezequiel Barco (Atlanta United),Gonzalo "Pity" Martinez (Atlanta United), Jonathan dos Santos (LA Galaxy), and Nani (Orlando City SC).
This impressive collection of MLS stars will face Atlético de Madrid, whose ten La Liga championships rank among the top three in Spain. The iconic club has won 30 trophies across all competitions, including Europa League in 2018, and finished second in La Liga in 2019.
Tickets to the 2019 MLS All-Star Game are now on sale by visiting Ticketmaster.com.
MLS Communications and the Orlando City Soccer Club contributed to this report.