KANSAS CITY – Being an MLS All-Star manager is certainly an honor. It looks rather fun, too, as the league’s top talent gathers in jovial camaraderie, playing some soccer in and around all the festive happenings.
But there is that little issue of player selection – which every MLS All-Star manager soon comes to recognize as a big kick in the head.
They pretty much all say so before it’s over. This morning at the All-Stars workout I asked this year’s helpless victim, Peter Vermes, if he was finding this to be predictably tough sledding.
“It’s not an easy aspect,” he said, “because someone is going to be upset.”
The “someone” isn’t the player, it’s the manager. A full set of MLS matches awaits this weekend. All but one contest is set for Saturday; one match on Sunday could have potentially played into the minute management calculus, providing just a little relief in the extra day’s cushion, but it’s Toronto-New England, and neither team has a player here.
Vermes has a 20-man roster here. He said he would like to see MLS change that to 22, giving a manager the option of playing everyone 45 minutes. As it is, two players will have to go all 90. He has already decided that Aurelien Collin will be one of the, as the best way to keep from hacking off a fellow MLS coach is to play your own man for the full 90.
As for the other one MLS man who will have to keep ‘em laced up tight from start to finish: “All the guys have great attitudes, and any of them would do it,” Vermes said. “It’s just something we have to take care of.”
By “take care of,” Vermes means having a word with the potential 90-minute man this afternoon and then reaching out to his coach this evening to head off any issues there.
As for who starts and who comes off the bench, most manager attempt to remain as true to the fan choices as possible. Vermes is.
Based on the morning practice at muggy Sporting Park, here is what his starting 11 will be (minus the right back, which his team went without in the short 10-v-10 scrimmage):
Raul Fernandez; Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Corey Ashe; Kyle Beckerman, Graham Zusi, Will Johnson, Brad Davis; Thierry Henry, Marco Di Viao.