Monday, July 9, 2012

Three Sporting KC members named to MLS All-Star team

Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen, defender Aurelien Collin and midfielder Graham Zusi were announced as members of the 2012 MLS All-Star First XI on Sunday, Major League Soccer revealed.

The First XI are the 11 MLS players who received the most votes from fans at their positions from the 2012 MLS All-Star ballot.

Sporting Kansas City's three representatives are the most of all MLS clubs and each of the three players will be in consideration for the 18-man gameday roster to be selected by MLS All-Star coach Ben Olsen (D.C. United) and revealed on Sunday, July 15.

The 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game will be held at 7:30 p.m. CT on Wednesday, July 25 at PPL Park in Chester, Pa. where the MLS All-Stars will face European Champions Chelsea FC live on ESPN2 and TeleFutura.

Nielsen earns his second MLS All-Star recognition, winning the AT&T Text Voting with 27% of all text votes. It marks the second straight season that a Sporting KC player has won the AT&T Text Voting, following Matt Besler's honor one year ago.

A fan favorite, Nielsen was the team's 2011 MVP and has played every minute in net for Sporting Kansas City this season. The Sporting KC captain is tied for the League lead with 10 victories this year and his nine shutouts are second most in MLS.

Nielsen posted a 414-minute shutout streak earlier this year, the longest in MLS this season, and his 1.11 career goals against average in MLS play is third best in League history among goalkeepers with 4,000 minutes played.

Collin, 26, earns his first MLS All-Star selection in his second season in the League. The French centerback has started all 18 MLS matches for Sporting Kansas City this season, anchoring a defense that has an MLS-best 0.94 goals against average and that has conceded a League low five goals at home this season. He's also contributed three goals and one assist on the offensive end.

Zusi, named MLS Breakout Player of the Year in 2011 with five goals and seven assists, also earns his first MLS All-Star selection.

The 25-year-old playmaker is the only player to have appeared in every match for Sporting Kansas City in all competition this season and has a single-season career high with eight assists, second most in MLS, and leads the League with four game-winning assists.

Zusi has broken into the U.S. Men's National Team player pool this year, starting two matches and scoring the game-winning goal in a 1-0 win at Panama, and has also scored two goals for Sporting KC this season.

A total of 32 players will earn the honor of being named a 2012 MLS All-Star. In addition to those voted to the First XI or selected for Olsen's gameday roster, MLS Commissioner Don Garber will make two selections and MLS player voting will determine the remaining All-Stars.