Major League Soccer has invited a group of its best players to Kansas City this week to compete in the All-Star Game. The annual exhibition tilt provides those stars with a chance to impress against a notable foreign club (in this case, AS Roma) and reinforce the growth of the league on a wider stage. In honor of the match at Sporting Park on Wednesday, this week's edition of the rankings highlights one All-Star – or All-Star candidate – from each team in the pecking order. Honorable mention 11. Houston Dynamo 12. New England Revolution 13. FC Dallas 14. Chicago Fire 15. San Jose Earthquakes 16. Columbus Crew 17. Chivas USA 18. Toronto FC 19. D.C. United --Kyle McCarthy
MLS commissioner Don Garber named DeAndre Yedlin as one of his two picks for the midsummer classic. Yedlin isn't quite at All-Star level yet, but the homegrown player earned his nod after an assured rookie season. He offers a tangible representation of the strides made within MLS youth development structures over the past few years. Next on the docket: Yedlin and the Sounders host FC Dallas on Saturday night.
It took a bit longer than anyone in Philadelphia anticipated, but Jack McInerney received a belated All-Star nod when Tim Cahill pulled out with an injury. The Generation adidas star continues to bag goals on a regular basis for the Union. He still needs time to develop – just ask United States coach Jurgen Klinsmann – yet the signs for the future remain promising. Next on the docket: McInerney welcomes fellow All-Star Mike Magee to PPL Park when Chicago visits on Saturday.
Rapids president Tim Hinchey tweeted that at least one of his players should have joined him on his trip to Kansas City. Hinchey highlighted rookie midfielder Dillon Powers as a potential option in his tweet. The assessment did not land far off the mark as the former Notre Dame player continues to impress with his performances in central midfield. Next on the docket: The surging Rapids – now unbeaten in six matches – host Rocky Mountain rivals Real Salt Lake on Saturday.
Camilo plied his trade in Malta and South Korea before landing in MLS. His recent exploits – including his current perch at the top of the goalscoring table – suggest he will not return to those relatively distant destinations at any point in the future. Next on the docket: Vancouver makes the short trip down the coast to face Cascadia rivals Portland on Saturday.
Los Angeles Galaxy
Injuries inevitably force alterations to the All-Star roster. Robbie Keane found himself among them this year after sustaining a left hip flexor strain in the 2-1 defeat at Portland on July 13. Keane constitutes a significant loss for the match given his form for much of the season. The only silver lining: Gold Cup winner Landon Donovan earned the nod to take his place. Next on the docket: Keane will have plenty of time to recover before FC Dallas arrives on Aug. 11.
New York Red Bulls
Thierry Henry continues to provide the extra touch of class for the Red Bulls. He isn't the most consistent figure anymore given his penchant for picking up minor knocks, but the former Arsenal and Barcelona star remains eminently capable of turning a match if the mood strikes him. Next on the docket: New York will hope to continue its climb toward the top of the Eastern Conference with a victory over Sporting Kansas City on Saturday.
AS Roma icon Francesco Totti received the hard sell on MLS from Impact star Marco Di Vaio. Although Totti remains tied to Roma, Di Vaio's marketing campaign made sense given his own success in the league. The veteran Serie A plunderer continues to ride the line and score regularly for one of the most improved sides of the season. Next on the docket: Montréal plans to extend its winning run to two matches with a victory at D.C. United on Saturday.
Will Johnson left Real Salt Lake for an uncertain situation under new Timbers coach Caleb Porter. Johnson's considerable contributions to the cause have sparked the well-supported side to an unexpectedly successful campaign to date. His new role as the lynchpin in Portland's three-man midfield fits him well. Next on the docket: Portland hosts Vancouver in yet another fraught Cascadia clash on Saturday.
Real Salt Lake
July offered Nick Rimando an opportunity to step into the international spotlight. The veteran keeper deserved the additional attention after yet another solid season for RSL and a lengthy track record of success at this level. His displays with the United States place him firmly in the running for the third goalkeeping berth if the Americans – as expected – qualify for the World Cup. Next on the docket: Real Salt Lake hosts Colorado in the latest meeting between the Rocky Mountain rivals at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Sporting Kansas City
Graham Zusi joined New York star Thierry Henry and All-Star manager Peter Vermes on the dais for the prematch press conference on Monday. His inclusion in that exclusive group reflects his increased stature within the league and the national team picture over the past few years. Zusi faces more demands given his increasing prominence in Jurgen Klinsmann's setup, but his continued success bodes well for Sporting's MLS Cup dreams at the end of the campaign. Next on the docket: Sporting will recover from its All-Star game hosting duties to welcome New York to Sporting Park on Saturday.