Fan Voting for the 2016 AT&T MLS All-Star Team is now live on MLSsoccer.com. Fans can vote for the Fan XI either through online ballot and/or the AT&T/EA SPORTS™ “More Than a Vote” Challenge through July 4 at 3 p.m. ET. The MLS All-Stars will face Arsenal FC of the English Premier League on July 28 at Avaya Stadium, home of the San Jose Earthquakes, in the 2016 AT&T MLS All-Star Game.
To create the fan ballot, media members nominated a total of 160 players. The 10 players – one goalkeeper, three defenders, four midfielders and two forwards – with the highest combined votes will then be named to the All-Star Fan XI.
The 11th player – a forward – will be determined by the AT&T/EA SPORTS™ “More Than a Vote” Challenge. Fans have the opportunity to vote one forward into the 2016 AT&T MLS All-Star Game by scoring goals in EA SPORTS FIFA 16 on Xbox One, PlayStation®4, Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system, and the PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system through July 4. The forward with the most votes – one goal equals one vote – on July 4 will occupy the final forward spot on the All-Star Fan XI.
So with the 2016 AT&T All-Star ballot out, let's take a look at the seven Union nominees:
Andre Blake – The Union have actually allowed the second-fewest shots in MLS, 46, heading into play on Wednesday night. So while Blake’s save number may not be there (he’s 12th with 35 stops), he’s third in save percentage (76.6 percent), second in catches (11) and second in keeper sweepings (22).
And, oh yeah, he’s a human highlight reel. A regular on MLS Save of the Week, Blake’s already been nominated six times in 12 weeks. And he’s up for this week’s award right now.
Keegan Rosenberry – The rookie right back has stolen plenty of headlines this year, and for good reason, but while the Rookie of the Year chase with Jordan Morris is on, he’s certainly off to the type of start to warrant All-Star consideration. He’s played all 990 minutes this season and has helped anchor a defense that has allowed just 11 goals – the top mark in the Eastern Conference. He’s also shown his ability in the attack. While his first-ever goal was hardly from distance, he’s shown a real ability to get forward and put crosses in dangerous areas. His first assist seems imminent.
Richie Marquez – Perhaps the true anchor of the defense, Marquez has played in every single minute since missing the opener against FC Dallas. Coincidence or not, the Union allowed two goals and a season-high 10 shots on goal in his absence. Since then, the Union have been one of the stingiest defenses in the league, allowing 11 goals in their last 11 games. Marquez has also chipped in his first-career goal this season and has been a real threat on set pieces with his height and athleticism.
Chris Pontius – A change of scenery has been just what the winger needed so far. He already has four goals and three assists this season – both already season high's since 2012. He's also now registered a point in four out of his last six games and is on pace to match, or surpass, that 2012 career season. Only Ignacio Piatti, Pedro Morales and Giovani dos Santos have more goals from the midfield position.
Tranquillo Barnetta – Playing the pivotal No. 10 role, Barnetta has greatly improved the Union offense since returning to full health. Heading into Wednesday night's match, Barnetta had already created 21 scoring chances this year. Of MLS players to play a minimum of 400 minutes, his creation rate is third best in MLS at one chance every 23.3 minutes. Only Diego Valeri and Sacha Kljestan have a better rate. Then he went and added his second goal against the Lions this season. And you probably remember his first:
Sebastien Le Toux – The Union will always be able to rely on Le Toux, the franchise leader in just about every single offensive category. Despite being 32-years-old, Le Toux’s energy level resembles that of a 22-year-old and he’s already scored two goals and three assists this year, including his picture-perfect cross to Richie Marquez for the game-winning goal against D.C. United last week.
C.J. Sapong – You know (or at least should know) about the goals. Sapong already has five this season, well on pace to break his single-season high of nine. But, Sapong is doing a lot of the dirty work without much of a breather. He’s winning free kicks at a very high rate, with 35 fouls won to his credit – tied with Dom Dwyer for the top mark in MLS. He’s also 10th in shot attempts (34).