Two months before Major League Soccer's best eleven square off against Barclays Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur FC in the 2015 AT&T MLS All-Star Game, the league announced Wednesday the eight Chicago Fire players who have been chosen for the fan ballot for the match to be held at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.
Goalkeeper Sean Johnson; defenders Joevin Jones and Jeff Larentowicz; midfielders Shaun Maloney, Matt Polster and Harry Shipp; and forwards David Accam and Quincy Amarikwa round off the Men in Red's representatives eligible for selection.
Larentowicz - the lone Fire player to have previously appeared in an All-Star game - represented the Colorado Rapids - this year's host - and featured in the second half against Manchester United at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas on July 28, 2010.
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With media members selecting eight players from each team for the fan balloting, eleven players with the highest combined votes will be nominated to the All-Star Fan XI to be unveiled at halftime of the Panama vs. United States CONCACAF Gold Cup match on July 13. Fans will also have the option of voting a forward into the game by scoring goals in EA Sports FIFA 15.
Media, fans, players and MLS Commissioner Don Garber will all have a hand in the selection procedure. All-Star head coach Pablo Mastroeni will name the gameday roster and the Starting XI on July 29.
The total of 32 All-Stars - named each year - including active and inactive players, consists of: four goalkeepers, eight defenders, 13 midfielders and seven forwards. Fan voting will go from May 27 through July 3 on MLSsoccer.com, and will be available by using #MLSAllStar on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Tweets must include the player's full name or with the player's Twitter/Instagram handle.
Portillo's has become a staple in the Chicagoland area due to its popular hot dogs, Italian beef sandwiches and now, its soccer jerseys.
OK, maybe one of these does not belong with the others. Regardless, Twitter user @JTHazzard created mock-up soccer jerseys mashing MLS teams and restaurants based in that team's city, and the Portillo's jersey is sweet.
From the Portillo's logo taking center-stage to the picnic blanket pattern to the discrete Chicago Fire logo, this jersey is absolutely brilliant. The only change this writer would make is including the logo below instead.
Valspar is the current sponsor featured on the Fire's uniforms. If the team ever needs a new sponsor, though, Portillo's would be an excellent replacement.
As far as notorious players in MLS with a history of scoring big goals, Alan Gordon is one of the first names on that list.
The Fire signed the 36-year-old forward on Friday, continuing to add depth to a roster that appeared paper thin throughout the preseason. Gordon, who had been on trial with the Fire for part of the preseason and even after the season opener, signed a one-year deal.
Gordon adds plenty of experience from being in the league since 2004 and having scored 55 goals with five different teams. For the past few years he has been used primarily as a substitute, but has still maintained his reputation for scoring goals late in games.
At 6-foot-3 he brings plenty of size and strength to the team and is one of the best players on headers in the league. Last season the Fire failed to score directly off a set piece, which was both due to consistently poor service from corner kicks and a lack of players adept at finishing them off. Gordon should give the Fire a late-game option in that area.
Elliot Collier had impressed the Fire enough to earn a contract as a third-round pick and an international player and even came off the bench in the opening loss to Sporting Kansas City, but it appears the team wanted more experience at forward with Gordon.