MLS All-Star Roster Finalized
NEW YORK (Tuesday, July 23, 2002) - MLS commissioner Don Garber and San Jose Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop today made their reserve selections for the roster of the MLS All-Star Team that will face the U.S. National Team at the 2002 MLS All-Star Game in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, August 3 (3:30 p.m. ET - ABC Sports).
"We are truly excited to finalize the rosters for the 2002 MLS All-Star Game," said Garber. "We expect to provide fans across America with an incredibly entertaining, competitive game, along with various elements celebrating the history of soccer in the United States. We've come a long way in a short period of time, both as a League and as a soccer-playing nation on the world stage. The 2002 MLS All-Star Weekend in Washington, D.C. will pay tribute to those accomplishments."
Yallop, who will coach the MLS All-Stars, selected three members of his League-leading San Jose squad - forward Ariel Graziani, defender/midfielder Wade Barrett and goalkeeper Joe Cannon - and rounded out the 18-man roster by inviting Dallas striker Jason Kreis and Kansas City Wizards midfielder Chris Klein. Currently tied for third in individual scoring, Kreis and Graziani were teammates on the Burn from 1999-2001, prior to the February trade that sent forward Ronald Cerritos to Dallas for Graziani.
"I wanted to be fair to our team and to all the players in the League," said Yallop. "It was a difficult decision, because there are a lot of players having great seasons both on our team and around the League. I wanted to make sure that we had a player from every area (defender, midfielder, and forward). I think that we have had strong play in all of those areas this season."
Despite the extended World Cup absence of veteran defender Jeff Agoos, Cannon and Barrett have endured to fortify a San Jose defense that currently posts a League-low 0.95 goals against average. Klein's outstanding play on the right wing for Kansas City this season belies his recent recovery from an offseason ACL tear. Both Barrett and Klein will make their All-Star debuts in 2002 while Graziani, Kreis and Cannon own a combined 10 MLS All-Star selections.
Added to the team as Commissioner's picks were Bolivian playmakers Marco Etcheverry of D.C. United and Joselito Vaca of the Dallas Burn. Etcheverry, United's captain and an RFK Stadium fan-favorite, is the League's No. 2 all-time assist leader and led D.C. United to four consecutive appearances in the MLS Cup title game, where the Black-and-Red emerged victorious in 1996, '97 and '99. Known as "El Diablo", Etcheverry's midfield magic also helped the United dynasty to a U.S. Open Cup title in 1996 and the InterAmerican Cup in 1998.
Viewed by many as the heir to Etcheverry's #10 shirt with the Bolivian National Team, Vaca has been a key player in the Burn's surprising surge to the top of the MLS standings in 2002. Named the Bolivian First Division's Player of the Year prior to joining the Burn for the 2001 MLS season, Vaca, like Etcheverry, is a product of the famed Bolivian soccer school, Tahuichi Academy.