Sporting Kansas City midfielder Ilie Sanchez has been named to the MLS All-Star gameday roster, Major League Soccer announced on Friday.
Ilie and Sporting KC defender Graham Zusi, an MLS All-Star Fan XI selection, will join a 26-player squad as Major League Soccer’s brightest stars square off with Italian powerhouse Juventus in the 2018 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target. The summer showcase at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta will kick off Wednesday, Aug. 1, at 6:30 p.m. CT on ESPN and UniMas.
The MLS All-Star roster consists of the All-Star Fan XI, announced on Monday, as well as two Commissioner’s Picks and 14 players selected by All-Star head coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino of Atlanta United FC. Zusi was one of three defenders voted to the Fan XI, while Ilie was one of Martino’s selections. The Argentine coach picked additional players to the roster to replace Atlanta midfielder Darlington Nagbe, who was voted to the 2018 MLS All-Star Fan XI but will be unavailable for the match due to injury.
Martino will pick the starting 11 from the 26-man MLS All-Star roster. The squad features 10 FIFA World Cup veterans, including U.S. international Zusi, among 16 of the league’s teams. The roster consists of players from 16 countries – the most in MLS All-Star Game history, eclipsing the previous record of 13 in the 2016 and 2017 MLS All-Star Games.
Ilie receives MLS All-Star honors for the first time in his career. Now in his second season with Sporting KC, the 27-year-old has played an integral role in helping Sporting KC ascend to the top of the Western Conference standings halfway through the 2018 campaign.
A native of Barcelona, Spain, Ilie has played every minute in all 18 matches for Sporting KC this season, including 16 MLS fixtures and two victories in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The defensive midfielder leads MLS in both successful passes (1,014) and successful passes in the attacking half (584) while ranking third among MLS field players in recoveries (149).
Ilie has recorded two goals and three assists in 2018, both MLS career-highs, and ranks seventh in the league with 30 chances created from open play. He has been named to the MLSsoccer.com Team of the Week on three occasions this year.
After spending the first eight year years of his professional career in Spain and Germany, Ilie joined Sporting KC in January 2017 as a key offseason addition. He started 39 of Sporting KC’s 40 games in all competitions last season, playing every minute in each appearance. Ilie finished second in MLS in total passes and third in passes completed, also ranking third among midfielders with 64 interceptions.
Zusi, 31, has garnered MLS All-Star accolades for the sixth time in his career, tied with former defender Jimmy Conrad for second-most in club history behind Preki’s seven. The right back previously earned All-Star recognition from 2012-2015 and again in 2017.
The 2018 MLS All-Stars are set to battle Juventus, the Italian giants who won their seventh consecutive Serie A title in May. The Turin-based outfit has won more Serie A and Coppa Italia titles than any other club and has reached the UEFA Champions League final in two of the past four years (2015, 2017). The team is led by manager Massimiliano Allegri, who just completed his fourth season at the helm.
2018 MLS All-Star Game Roster by Position
GOALKEEPERS: Brad Guzan^ (Atlanta United), Zack Steffen* (Columbus Crew SC)
DEFENDERS: Francisco Calvo* (Minnesota United), Laurent Ciman^ (Los Angeles Football Club), Alphonso Davies# (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Matt Hedges* (FC Dallas), Aaron Long* (New York Red Bulls), Michael Murillo* (New York Red Bulls), Michael Parkhurst^ (Atlanta United), Graham Zusi^ (Sporting Kansas City)
MIDFIELDERS: Miguel Almirón^ (Atlanta United), Ezequiel Barco^ (Atlanta United), Jonathan dos Santos* (LA Galaxy), Alberth Elis* (Houston Dynamo), Ignacio Piatti* (Montreal Impact), Alexander Ring* (New York City FC), Ilie Sanchez* (Sporting Kansas City), Diego Valeri^ (Portland Timbers), Yoshimar Yotún* (Orlando City SC), Wilfried Zahibo* (New England Revolution)
FORWARDS: Sebastian Giovinco* (Toronto FC), Zlatan Ibrahimović^ (LA Galaxy), Josef Martínez^ (Atlanta United), Carlos Vela^ (Los Angeles Football Club), David Villa* (New York City FC), Bradley Wright-Phillips# (New York Red Bulls)
^ Fan XI selection
* Gerardo “Tata” Martino selection
# Commissioner Don Garber selection
MLS All-Stars in Sporting KC History
Mo Johnston (2)
Vitalis Takawira (2)
Mo Johnston (3)
Tony Meola (2)
Chris Klein (2)
|2004||Chris Klein (3)
|2005||Chris Klein (4)
Jimmy Conrad (2)
|2006||Jimmy Conrad (3)
Jose Burciaga, Jr.
|2007||Jimmy Conrad (4)
|2008||Jimmy Conrad (5)|
|2009||Jimmy Conrad (6)
|2012||Jimmy Nielsen (2)
|2013||Matt Besler (2)
Aurelien Collin (2)
Graham Zusi (2)
|2014||Matt Besler (3)
Aurelien Collin (3)
Graham Zusi (3)
|2015||Matt Besler (4)
Graham Zusi (4)
|2016||Matt Besler (5)|
|2017||Graham Zusi (5)|
|2018||Graham Zusi (6)