NEW YORK – If the MLS All-Stars are going to beat English Premier League champions Manchester United in the All-Star Game on July 27 at Red Bull Arena, they’re going to need a big game from Hans Backe.
The New York Red Bulls manager was named by MLS as the All-Stars head coach to match wits against Sir Alex Ferguson in the nationally televised affair (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2 and Galavisión), which is a rematch of the 2010 match that Man Utd won 5-2 at Reliant Stadium.
In previous All-Star Games, the head coach of the league’s best team was given the honor of leading MLS' best. This year, however, MLS opted for the home team manager for “competitive considerations.” While taking over the All-Star team, the 59-year-old Backe would not miss any practices with the Red Bulls.
In another new twist for the 2011 edition of the All-Star Game, the Swedish manager will also have the opportunity to choose the starting lineup. Fans will still be able to vote for their own top 11 All-Stars, but Backe will have the final say on who takes the field against Manchester United.
There will be 32 All-Stars named with fans voting from a field of 108 players determined by a select media panel. Fan voting via text, twitter and online will conclude on July 5 and the fan selections will be announced on July 10. Then it will be up to Backe to choose whether any of those 11 fan selections make the gameday roster. Backe will announce his squad on Monday, July 18.
The 32 players named 2011 AT&T MLS All-Stars will be selected in four phases:
1) Ballot creation: A select media panel will determine the field of players – six players per team – who are most deserving of consideration for this year’s All-Star Game. Those 108 players will be eligible for fan voting.
The ballot of eligible players nominated by the media panel will be announced on MLSsoccer.com on June 8.
2) Fan voting: Beginning June 8 and ending July 5, fans will select the “First XI” All-Stars. Fans can vote via three digital platforms:
- At MLSsoccer.com: Vote for your starting lineup of 11 players, beginning June 8.
- Via mobile texting (SMS): Vote for one player per text message with specific instructions to be announced June 8. Each vote will count equally with those submitted online in determining the First XI, but the player who receives the most text votes will be guaranteed one of those 11 slots.
- Twitter: Specific instructions for voting via Twitter will be announced June 8.
The First XI will be announced Sunday, July 10, likely on ESPN during halftime of the Portland-Seattle game that begins at 4 p.m. ET.
3) Coach & Commissioner selections: The MLS All-Star head coach will select the gameday roster. Players named to the First XI are eligible for selection to the gameday roster by the coach. MLS Commissioner Don Garber will select two All-Stars; the coach will decide if those two are selected for the gameday roster.
The coach and Commissioner selections will be announced on Monday, July 18.
4) Player selections: Once the final gameday roster has been announced, voting by MLS players will determine the remainder of the 32 All-Stars named annually per the CBA (known as the “inactive roster”).
The final list of 32 All-Stars (4 goalkeepers, 8 defenders, 13 midfielders and 7 forwards) will be announced on MLSsoccer.com on July 25.