ATLANTA – Major League Soccer today announced the 2018 MLS All-Star Fan XI presented by Target, with Atlanta United featuring the largest fan-voted club contingent in an MLS All-Star Game with six players. The MLS All-Star Team will take on Italian powerhouse Juventus in the 2018 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Wednesday, Aug. 1, at 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN, UniMás, TSN and TVA Sports.
Brad Guzan was voted as the goalkeeper, with Five Stripes captain Michael Parkhurst joining him on the defensive end. Atlanta United’s dynamic attack, which leads the league in scoring, is heavily featured among this year’s Fan XI. Miguel Almirón, Ezequiel Barco and Darlington Nagbe are three of the four midfielders, with MLS Golden Boot leader Josef Martínez leading the forwards. With the game being played in Atlanta, “Tata” Martino will coach the 2018 MLS All-Stars against Juventus.
A member of the U.S. Men’s National Team, Guzan earns his second MLS All-Star selection (2007). The Evergreen Park, Ill. native finished with the third-best goals-against average last season and leads all MLS goalies in wins this year. The first-ever captain in team history, Parkhurst picks up his sixth MLS All-Star selection. The defender has been one of the most consistent players all season long for Atlanta United, starting all but the opener this year.
After being named to the 2017 MLS Best XI last season, Almirón has continued to shine for Atlanta United to collect his second MLS All-Star selection. The Paraguayan playmaker leads the team in assists and shots. Joining him in midfield is a fellow two-time MLS All-Star selection in Darlington Nagbe. The U.S. Men’s National Team player leads MLS in passing accuracy (92%) and is one of the key cogs to Atlanta United’s possession game.
Rounding out the midfield trio is a league newcomer, Ezequiel Barco, who has made an instant splash since joining MLS. He has three goals, despite missing time early due to injury. The Argentina native has helped lead the Five Stripes into first place in the Eastern Conference. His pace and technical ability have made him a fan-favorite in a short period of time.
The final MLS Fan-XI presented by Target selection for the Five Stripes is the league’s leading goal scorer in Josef Martínez. The striker scored 19 goals in 2017, and has picked up right where he left off in 2018. The Venezuelan forward leads the Golden Boot race with 14 goals this season and he has been named MLS Player of the Month and MLS Player of the Week two times this season. This will mark Martínez’s first MLS All-Star selection.
The other 2018 MLS Fan XI presented by Target selections featured defenders Laurent Ciman (Los Angeles Football Club) and Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City). Portland Timbers’ midfielder Diego Valeri joins the Atlanta United midfield trio, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic (LA Galaxy) and Carlos Vela (Los Angeles Football Club – EA SPORTS™ “More Than a Vote” Challenge) round out the forwards on the team.
The 2018 MLS All-Star gameday roster, consisting of 24 players, will be announced at a later date and will include the 2018 MLS All-Star Fan XI presented by Target, two Commissioner’s Picks, and 11 players selected by All-Star Head Coach “Tata” Martino, whose Atlanta United have the most points in MLS. Martino will select the starting 11 from the 24-man MLS All-Star roster.
The 2018 MLS All-Stars will face off against Juventus, the Italian giants who won their seventh consecutive Serie A title earlier this year. Juventus is the most decorated club in Italy, winning more Serie A and Coppa Italia titles than any other Italian club. Juventus also reached the UEFA Champions League final in two of the past four years (2015, 2017). The team is managed by Massimiliano Allegri, who just completed his fourth season with the club.