Who is this year’s biggest MLS All-Star Game snub?

Dom Dwyer

Photo by Andrew Katsampes/ISIphotos.com

By FRANCO PANIZO

It happens every year: A deserving candidate for the MLS All-Star Game is left off the squad due to roster limitations.

This season is no different. In fact, there might be more players in 2014 than there have been in recent years that have legitimate cases for inclusion.

The MLS All-Star Game in Portland, Oregon, is fast approaching, and attention will soon turn towards the 23 players that will face Bayern Munich in Wednesday’s friendly at Providence Park. But there are several standouts worthy of an All-Star nod that will not be involved, including Sporting Kansas City duo Dom Dwyer and Benny Feilhaber, Vancouver Whitecaps midfield ace Pedro Morales, D.C. United forward Fabian Espindola.

MLS has gone to greater lengths to ensure that as many deserving players as possible can make their way onto the MLS All-Star roster. The amount of players has gone up every year since 2012 and there is more than just the fans’ vote – which is essentially a popularity contest across all sports – as the head coach of the All-Star team picks the majority of the rest of the team before MLS commissioner Don Garber selects the final two participants.

Still, some quality players get unjustly snubbed in the process. The argument that is commonly made is that MLS should make the All-Star Game be between players representing the Eastern and Western Conferences, but even that approach would not guarantee that every player who enjoyed a good first half to the season would get selected.

Here is a look at some of this year’s more notable omissions from the MLS All-Star squad:

DOM DWYER

In the midst of the MLS Golden Boot race, Dwyer is having himself quite a season with Eastern Conference-leaders Sporting Kansas City. He has 14 goals – which is tied with MLS All-Star selection Erick Torres of Chivas USA for second most in the league- and one assist in 21 appearances.

FABIAN ESPINDOLA

He would not be able to play in the game due to injury, but Espindola has been on an impressive tear in his first season with D.C. United that deserves recognition. He has seven goals, eight assists and is a big reason why the club has jumped from the bottom of the East in 2013 to second place.

BENNY FEILHABER

When Graham Zusi and Matt Besler left Sporting KC for World Cup duty, Feilhaber did a tremendous job in helping fill the void. The veteran midfielder was enjoying a good season up until that point, but turned his level of play up a notch when his teammates departed. His three goals and five assists don’t do justice to the type of impact he has had this year.

PEDRO MORALES

His numbers alone give him a good argument for inclusion, but Morales’ overall play has been stout for the Vancouver Whitecaps. He has dominated several games this season, contributed with seven goals and eight assists in 20 matches, and would likely have even better statistics if some of his young teammates were a bit more sharp in the final third.

LUIS ROBLES

The New York Red Bulls’ leaky back line has been saved time and again by the heroic Robles, who has a highlight-reel worth of stops this season. Robles started out the season incredibly and looked to be a lock for the All-Star Game, but New York’s defensive issues have persisted to the point that the veteran goalkeeper has had to make a league-high 70 saves en route to posting just three clean sheets.

HARRY SHIPP

The leading candidate for MLS Rookie of the Year, Shipp has pieced together a strong starting half to 2014. He has shown an ability to make an impact despite his unimposing stature, using his skill to score six goals and record five assists for a Chicago Fire side that is struggling but just five points shy of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

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Who is this year’s biggest MLS All-Star Game snub? Is it Dwyer, Feilhaber, Morales or someone else? Should MLS switch to an East vs. West format?

Share your thoughts below.

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41 Responses to Who is this year’s biggest MLS All-Star Game snub?

  1. JayAre says:

    Dom Dwyer. The All Star game is starting to become a popularity contest. LD doesn’t belong there

    • SilverRey says:

      I’m assuming by saying “starting” you are referring to the past 19 years. I’m fairly certain that every single team has had at least one “snub” per year since 1996. And yes it has always been popularity contest.

    • SilverRey says:

      I agree though, it’s Dom Dwyer.

  2. Thomas says:

    Biggest snub: MLS fans

    The thought here seemed to be Bayern=Big team=good publicity. No one thought about the fact that an All Star game is supposed to be a spectacle. Watching one team have 80% possession isn’t most people’s idea of that. The way Munich keeps the ball, this is in all likelihood going to be a terrible match. All Stars aren’t going to want to chase a ball for 90 mins which is what Bayern do to the best of teams, not to mention a random collection of players from multiple teams. I love the MLS All Star format, I just wish someone would have thought this through a little better picked a team that would have allowed the game to be a bit more end to end.

    • Alecko says:

      true that.

    • DCGooner says:

      WAHHHHHH Mr. Negativity here…

    • SR says:

      Bayern also realize the nature of the game, though– they have no stake in dominating the game like that, they’re playing plenty of guys who aren’t trying out for their spot, and I’m sure MLS has discussed expectations. It won’t be 22 guys playing keepaway for 90 minutes.

      You’ll get your spectacle.

      • Dave80 says:

        No stake in it, but individually trying to make the team, so they’re definitely not going to show the coach that they can play the way the coach wants the team to play?

        Right.

  3. footballa says:

    Lee Nguyen

  4. Joe A says:

    Feilhaber

  5. don Lamb says:

    Vincent Nogueira – not that he has any numbers to back it up, but he is clearly one of the best midfielders in the league.

    • Pace says:

      No one outside of Philly realizes just how good nogueira is at passing and holding possession.

    • Yo-Joe says:

      Nogueira is fantastic, and would be deserving of a spot.

    • Broadsthooligans says:

      As good as Valdes, Casey, Seba and a few others a few others have been at different points, the season that Noguiera has put together has been the best ever played in a Union kit. If the Union get things figured out, it’ll be largely his doing. I wouldn’t trade him for anyone in the league.

    • Don't mind if I Freddy Adu says:

      Glad somebody else said it.

      Nogueira is a stud

  6. Joamiq says:

    Dwyer, Feilhaber, Morales, and Robles are all worthy. I’d have to go with either Dwyer or Robles as the biggest snubs, because those two guys have been arguably the best at their positions this season. At least Dwyer gets talked up a lot. Robles is just completely ignored. Maybe it’s because he’s a quiet, humble, no flash family man.

    • Northzax says:

      Robles? A snub is that you are better than the players picked instead of you. You really think Robles is having a better season than Hamid?

      • Joamiq says:

        If you think Hamid is having a better season than Robles, you haven’t been paying attention.

  7. Sebastian says:

    Perry Kitchen deserves a look in my opinion. He’s been solid all year and had really developed his play over the course of the season. Also feel like he’s a bit underrated overall in the league.

  8. Limey says:

    So how about the flip side? Which players (apart from Landon Donavon) don’t deserve to make the All Star Team?

    • Lost in Space says:

      I would say the list of players who got on based more for their name recognition than their level of play would be:
      Donovan, Henry, Will Johnson (token Canadian?), and potentially Rimando, Kean, Cahill, and Parkhurst. Though I haven’t seen too many of the RB or Crew matches.

      I would prefer to see players who aren’t the “Big Name” guys in the big markets or big signings…..but rather those who have made a name for themselves through their play on the field.

  9. beahbum says:

    both SKC guys, Dwyer and Benny

  10. Tyler says:

    Dwyer, followed by Higuain, also snubbed from this list

  11. Brian S. says:

    Maybe I’m biased due to being a fellow Mississippian but I think Justin Mapp is an annual snub from this game. It could be because Montreal is abysmal this year, also.

  12. El naranja says:

    Brad Davis

  13. Jeff says:

    The first four listed. The last two no way!

  14. Tim F. says:

    How many players does the All-Star team have that play outside back?

  15. Big Red says:

    Lamar Neagle. Without him Seattle is no good. Just look to that LA game. Injured in the first half and Seattle got run out of their own stadium.

  16. JoeW says:

    For me, it’s two guys: Feilhaber and Espindola.

    1. Feilhaber has probably hit more thru-balls that lead to chances than any other midfielder or attacker in MLS. We talk about how to upgrade the league. Getting guys who are playing like Feilhaber is right now are the best way…b/c it not only raises the level of technical skill, it’s far more demanding of the tactical awareness and thought. Defending against a Feilhaber-kind of player requires a much smarter, tactically astute, anticipatory defense. It’s the difference between a d-mid who just chases balls, stays close to the A-mid, tackles hard and never stops running vs. one who reads the game, anticipates threats by guys without the ball, thinks not just about defense at the point of attack but defense in depth. Feilhaber is having an immense season in a very sophisticated way that few mids in MLS can match.

    2. Espindola quite simply, took the team and put it on his shoulders. Other guys have more goals and more highlight goals. But DCU has gone from an epic worst to nearly first. And it hasn’t been done with smoke and mirrors. They are effectively a small budget team, one of the smallest budgets in the league, owners not willing to spend money until a new stadium emerges, no commitment to adding serious overseas talent, relying totally on college, academy, USL and MLS talent. What other side in MLS can say that? And Espindola has been a huge difference-maker. As of June 5th, Espindola had accounted for 71% of all of DCU’s scores (by goal or assist) and had 6 game tying or winning goals or assists. This is with a club that didn’t win a game in April and was coming off a horrific 2013.

  17. wood chip Zip says:

    Darlington Nagbe. He’s been fouled nearly 20 times more than anyone else in the league because players can’t handle him. He doesn’t have the numbers this season but his runs with the ball draw defenders and fouls that have created tons of opportunities for his teammates and are a big reason why Portland is among the top in MLS for goals scored. Got to think Porter doesn’t want to showcase him to Pep and the other big teams in the country at the moment so he chose Valeri instead.

  18. Phlub says:

    Both Morales mids, Nguyen, maybe Powers even.

    Nagbe just needs the numbers, but he’ll get there.

    Could’ve been Torres or Dwyer. Very similar seasons so far, but Torres has been more impressive seeing as how he scores given the quality around him

  19. jakeballin says:

    I only saw Nagbe once in person this season but he took on almost zero responsibility. Seems like he hides during games for whatever reason