The fans of Major League Soccer have spoken, naming three of the league’s top-ranked goalscorers, a young player fresh off his FIFA U-20 World Cup appearance, and global superstars to the 2019 MLS All-Star Fan XI presented by Target. These players – with 10 selected by the fans from a ballot created by the media, and one additional player selected through the EA SPORTS™ “More Than a Vote” Challenge – will be among the best in MLS chosen to face 10-time La Liga champions Atlético de Madrid in the 2019 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target at Exploria Stadium in Orlando on Wednesday, July 31 (7 p.m. CT, FS1).
Locking down the three forward positions is a trio of global icons – with significant World Cup and international experience – who rank among the top five goalscorers in MLS this season. Los Angeles Football Club forward Carlos Vela leads the way in both fan votes and in the Golden Boot race, as the Mexico National Team star remains on record-setting, single-season scoring pace with 16 goals in 16 games to place LAFC atop league standings.
Joining Vela is D.C. United front man and England’s all-time leading scorer Wayne Rooney, the top-ranked player in both goals (8) and assists (5) for his MLS club this season. The LA Galaxy’s Swedish superstar Zlatan Ibrahimović, currently the No. 2 scorer in MLS with 11 goals, rounds out the forwards as the EA SPORTS™ “More Than a Vote” Challenge winner with 6 million appearances in EA SPORTS FIFA 19.
Atlanta United have contributed multiple players to the Fan XI in each of their three seasons. This year’s quartet features 20-year-old Argentine midfielder Ezequiel Barco with four goals and an assist alongside fellow countryman and reigning South American Player of the Year Gonzalo “Pity” Martínez. Goalkeeper Brad Guzanhas a league-leading eight shutouts through Atlanta’s first 15 matches of 2019, and center back Leandro González Pírez is commanding MLS’ stingiest backline, which boasts the fewest goals against.
A veteran defender named to his seventh MLS All-Star team, Sporting Kansas City’s Graham Zusi is the most experienced among the six players with multiple All-Star appearances. Meanwhile, the five newcomers breaking into the Fan XI mark the most since 2016. Among those newcomers are Rooney and Orlando City SC’s Nani, the Portuguese midfielder who leads his club in five offensive categories after recently recording his 100th career club goal.
Both Nani and Rooney are part of a unique group of players who have seen both sides of this midseason showcase. The two former Manchester United teammates faced the MLS All-Stars in 2010 and 2011, and now become the fourth set of teammates from a previous opposing international team to make an MLS All-Star roster.
Fan XI players competing in Concacaf Gold Cup this summer are Mexico National Team midfielder Jonathan dos Santos, with two goals and an assist for the LA Galaxy this season, and crosstown rival defender Walker Zimmerman of LAFC, who is the stronghold of the U.S. Men’s National Team’s backline.
The complete 2019 MLS All-Star gameday roster will be announced at a later date and will also include two Commissioner’s Picks and those players selected by All-Star Head Coach James O’Connor of Orlando City SC.
The MLS All-Stars will face a tough opponent in Atlético de Madrid, one of most decorated clubs in the world. Atlético de Madrid’s 10 La Liga championships rank among the top three in Spain. With 30 trophies won across all competitions, the 2018 Europa League champions finished the 2018-2019 season second in La Liga standings. The match will be televised on FS1, UniMás, TSN and TVA Sports, and in more than 170 countries around the world.
Tickets to the 2019 MLS All-Star Game are now on sale at Ticketmaster.com.
Throughout the week, MLS clubs had the opportunity to unveil their own players selected to the MLS All-Star Fan XI presented by Target. Video assets are available here.
2019 MLS All-Star Fan XI presented by Target
Goalkeeper: Brad Guzan (Atlanta United)
Defenders: Leandro González Pírez (Atlanta United), Walker Zimmerman (Los Angeles Football Club), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
Midfielders: Ezequiel Barco (Atlanta United), Jonathan dos Santos (LA Galaxy), Gonzalo “Pity” Martínez (Atlanta United), Nani (Orlando City SC)
Forwards: Zlatan Ibrahimović (LA Galaxy – EA SPORTS™ “More Than a Vote” Challenge), Wayne Rooney (D.C. United), Carlos Vela (Los Angeles Football Club)
Bios for 2019 MLS All-Star Fan XI presented by Target
(Listed in alphabetical order)
Ezequiel Barco | Midfielder | Atlanta United | Nationality: Argentina | Born: March 29, 1992
Fresh off his second FIFA U-20 World Cup appearance with Argentina (2017, 2019) and a top-six selection in MLS’s annual ranking of 22 best players under age 22, Barco is among Atlanta United’s top two goalscorers this season as a young Designated Player. The 20-year-old has already matched his scoring total from last season, with four goals and three assists in 2019. Last season, he appeared in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs and Atlanta’s United’s MLS Cup victory. This is the second MLS All-Star selection for Ezequiel Barco.
Jonathan dos Santos | Midfielder | LA Galaxy | Nationality: Mexico | Born: April 26, 1990
A member of the Mexico National Team, dos Santos has most recently represented his country at the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup along with the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, as well as the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup. Dos Santos signed with the LA Galaxy in 2017 as a Designated Player after playing for Barcelona and Villarreal. This is his second MLS All-Star Game selection (2018, 2019).
Brad Guzan | Goalkeeper | Atlanta United | Nationality: USA | Born: Sept. 9, 1984
A member of the U.S. Men’s National Team, Guzan has been named to two FIFA World Cup rosters (2010, 2014), two Concacaf Gold Cup rosters (2007, 2015), two Copa America rosters (2007, 2016), and was the starting goalkeeper for the U.S. U-23 team at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. In 2017, Guzan was among the top three goalkeepers in lowest goals against average (0.71), and he held opponents scoreless for 300 minutes during the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs en route to shutout victories in both the Eastern Conference Championship and in the MLS Cup. Guzan was previously named to the MLS Best XI in 2007. This is Guzan’s third MLS All-Star selection (2007, 2018, 2019).
Leandro González Pírez | Defender | Atlanta United | Nationality: Argentina | Born: Feb. 26, 1992
The anchor of the reigning champions’ backline, González Pírez is a mainstay on Atlanta United’s defensive unit. A starter in every MLS game in which he has appeared over his three seasons, González Pírez started all five Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs matches, helping Atlanta United to three postseason shutouts, including a 2-0 victory at the 2018 MLS Cup. He was among the nominees for both the 2017 and 2018 MLS Defender of the Year awards after leading Atlanta in touches and tackles won. He wore the captain’s armband during Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup matches last season and has youth national team experience with Argentina’s U-17s, U-20s and U-22s. This is the first MLS All-Star selection for González Pírez.
Zlatan Ibrahimović | Forward | LA Galaxy | Nationality: Sweden | Born: Oct. 3, 1981
Joining the Galaxy last year, Ibrahimović is one of just three players in the world to score a combined 500 goals for club and country (Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo). In 2018, Ibrahimović also became the third player in MLS history to record 20-plus goals and 10-plus assists in a season, on his way to a Best XI selection. The former Paris Saint-Germain player is Sweden’s all-time leading goal scorer with 62 goals in 116 games. Ibrahimović has played in two FIFA World Cups (2002, 2006). This is Ibrahimović’s second MLS All-Star Game selection (2018, 2019).
Gonzalo “Pity” Martínez | Midfielder | Atlanta United | Nationality: Argentina | Born: March 29, 1992
The reigning South American Player of the Year, Martínez has 10 starts in his first 14 Atlanta United appearances this season. The 25-year-old, with a goal and two assists in his opening MLS campaign, has three caps with the Argentina National Team, including a goal during his national team debut in September 2018 and a start in a March 2019 friendly. This is the first MLS All-Star selection for Martínez.
Nani | Midfielder | Orlando City SC | Nationality: Portugal | Born: Nov. 17, 1986
The Portugal winger, known for his acrobatic post-goal backflips and successful club and international career in Europe, has found his groove in Orlando during the 2019 MLS season. Since the start of April, Nani has posted eight goals over a 10-game stretch, putting Orlando near the fringe of a postseason spot heading toward the midway point of the season. Nani won four Premier League titles with Manchester United, playing alongside D.C. United’s Wayne Rooney. Nani will now spearhead the MLS All-Star team as his new Orlando side plays host to Atlético de Madrid. This is Nani’s first MLS All-Star Game selection.
Wayne Rooney | Forward | D.C. United | Nationality: England | Born: Oct. 24, 1985
The three-time FIFA World Cup participant (2006, 2010, 2014), who became England’s all-time leading goalscorer with 53 tallies, helped lead a last-place D.C. United team into the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs, in conjunction with the opening of Audi Field. Rooney scored 12 goals and recorded seven assists in 20 matches last season, earning 2018 MLS Best XI honors. Rooney’s 2019 campaign ranks among the league’s leaders with eight goals (tied for fourth in MLS) and five assists. Before joining D.C. midseason last year, Rooney had a famed club career in England with Manchester United and Everton, scoring 208 combined goals between the two sides. This is Rooney’s first MLS All-Star Game selection.
Carlos Vela | Forward | Los Angeles Football Club | Nationality: Mexico | Born: March 1, 1989
In his debut MLS season, Vela helped LAFC to the most points ever by an expansion club behind his 14 goals and 13 assists, leading to an MLS Best XI selection. A crucial member of the Mexico National Team, Vela has played in two FIFA World Cups (2010, 2018) and has won the Concacaf Gold Cup on two occasions (2009, 2015). This season, Vela leads MLS in both goals scored (16) and assists (10). This is Vela’s second MLS All-Star Game selection (2018, 2019).
Walker Zimmerman | Defender | Los Angeles Football Club | Nationality: USA | Born: May 19, 1993
After five seasons with FC Dallas, Zimmerman was brought in as a main piece on LAFC’s back line during the club’s 2018 debut season. A danger in set-piece attacking situations, Zimmerman tallied four goals in 26 regular-season games last year as LAFC set a single-season MLS points record for an expansion club. Zimmerman has also gained playing time for the U.S. Men’s National Team since debuting in 2017, earning a spot on the USA’s 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup roster. This is Zimmerman’s first MLS All-Star Game selection.
Graham Zusi | Defender | Sporting Kansas City | Nationality: USA | Born: Aug. 18, 1986
The U.S. National Team defender has made 55 international appearances and was an integral player for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Zusi has excelled for Sporting Kansas City, spending the entirety of his 11-year career with the team and ranking second in club history with 263 games played and 65 assists. Zusi was also previously named to the MLS Best XI in 2012 and 2013. This is Zusi’s seventh MLS All-Star selection (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019).