Football Features

The MLS All-Star squad members to face Atletico Madrid you may not know about

By CJ Smith

Published: 10:28, 31 July 2019

The squad to face Atletico Madrid in the 2019 MLS All-Star Game at Orlando City’s Exploria Stadium has been announced.

The 26-man roster has its usual sprinkle of stars that fans from Europe will not need reminding about, with the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Nani all among those picked.

However, this particular clutch of players also includes a bunch of talents which followers this side of the pond might not be quite as familiar with but are still sure to entertain on this showpiece occasion.

At Squawka, we’ve listed seven of those players and given you the lowdown on why they’ve been selected.

1. Josef Martinez

Club: Atlanta United

Position: Striker

The 2018 MLS MVP and league record holder for most goals in a single season after notching 35 in 39 games in Atlanta United’s MLS Cup-winning year, Josef Martinez was never not going to make this roster. This season, even without partner in crime Miguel Almiron, he’s bagged another 17 goals in 20 games and has now been linked with a return to Europe with Everton, having previously played for Torino.

2. Ezequiel Barco

Club: Atlanta United

Position: Attacking midfielder (left, right, centre)

Martinez’s teammate at Atlanta, Ezequiel Barco took a little longer to find his stride with the Five Stripes, but this season he’s been fantastic. Bagging four goals and one assist in nine MLS appearances so far, the young Argentinian also shone at the recent U-20 World Cup and scores bangers for fun. Arsenal and Napoli are reportedly keeping tabs on the 20-year-old.

3. Diego Rossi

Club: Los Angeles FC

Position: Forward

While Carlos Vela has been tearing MLS apart, limb by limb, fellow forward Diego Rossi has been notching up some impressive numbers himself. The Uruguayan starlet has 12 goals and four assists so far this season, helping LAFC storm to the top of the Supporters’ Shield standings with his expert dribbling from the left flank.

4. Paxton Pomykal

Club: FC Dallas

Position: Central midfield

Even though he’s just 19 years old, DC Dallas’ Paxton Pomykal already looks like an absolute gem of a midfielder. His wonderful blend of graceful ball-carrying, precision passing and timely tackling has made him one of the ones to watch among young MLS players and is being touted as the next big hope for the USMNT. Definitely a name to remember.

5. Chris Wondolowski

Club: San Jose Earthquakes

Position: Forward

Having not scored a single goal since October 2018, 36-year-old Chris Wondolowski bagged four to help San Jose Earthquakes beat Chicago Fire 4-1 in May and, in the process, beat Landon Donovon’s long-standing regular season goalscoring record – which now stands at 153 thanks to him notching another five in 11 since then. A real MLS stalwart whose lethal finishing should keep Atleti’s defenders on their toes, ex-Chelsea defender John Terry said to Wondolowski, “Your movement is incredible” and described defending him as a “nightmare” after facing him during the 2012 All-Star game.

6. Gonzalo ‘Pity’ Martinez

Club: Atlanta United

Position: Attacking midfielder

A Copa Libertadores winner with River Plate and last season’s South American Player of the Year, Gonzalo ‘Pity’ Martinez arrived at Atlanta United in pre-season as Almiron’s replacement for a league-record $17m fee. Although he’s only managed three goals and five assists in MLS so far, the 26-year-old has played the second-highest number of key passes (35) among Five Stripes players this season and one would think it’s only a matter of time before he produces the goods.

7. Alejandro Pozuelo

Club: Toronto FC

Position: Attacking midfielder

OK, some of you may know this guy. Ex-Swansea City and Anderlecht playmaker Alejandro Pozuelo has been doing bits in MLS, smashing in nine goals and registering five assists so far since switching to Toronto FC. Anyone who dares a panenka penalty on their club debut is worthy of an All-Star place and the Spaniard has certainly earned his.

2019 MLS All-Star Game Roster by Position

Goalkeepers: Andre Blake* (Philadelphia Union), Brad Guzan^ (Atlanta United), Nick Rimando# (Real Salt Lake)

Defenders: Matt Hedges* (FC Dallas), Kemar Lawrence* (New York Red Bulls), Romain Métanire* (Minnesota United FC), Leandro González Pírez^ (Atlanta United), Bastian Schweinsteiger* (Chicago Fire), Walker Zimmerman^ (Los Angeles Football Club), Graham Zusi^ (Sporting Kansas City)

Midfielders: Ezequiel Barco^ (Atlanta United), Diego Chara* (Portland Timbers), Jonathan dos Santos^ (LA Galaxy), Mark-Anthony Kaye* (Los Angeles Football Club), Nicolás Lodeiro* (Seattle Sounders FC), Gonzalo “Pity” Martínez^ (Atlanta United), Maxi Moralez* (NYCFC), Nani^ (Orlando City SC), Paxton Pomykal# (FC Dallas), Alejandro Pozuelo* (Toronto FC) Diego Rossi* (Los Angeles Football Club),

Forwards: Zlatan Ibrahimović^ (LA Galaxy – EA SPORTS™ “More Than a Vote” Challenge), Josef Martínez* (Atlanta United), Wayne Rooney^ (D.C. United), Chris Wondolowski* (San Jose Earthquakes) Carlos Vela^ (Los Angeles Football Club)

^Fan XI selection
*James O’Connor selection
#Commissioner Don Garber selection