PORTLAND, OR - MAY 29: Perry Kitchen #23 of D.C. United celebrates with teammates Dejan Jakovic #5 and Clyde Simms #19 after Kitchen scored a goal in the first half of the game against the Portland Timbers at PGE Park on May 29, 2011 in Portland, Oregon.. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
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Quick, what do Charlie Davies, Perry Kitchen, Dax McCarty, Andy Najar, Chris Pontius, and Josh Wolff have in common, apart from the obvious fact that they all play for D.C. United? They've all been nominated for inclusion in the 2011 MLS All-Star Game, which will take place July 27 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N. J. and pit the best of America's top league against 19-time English champions Manchester United.
A panel of media members selected six players from each of the 18 MLS teams for nomination. United fans who want to see their favorites (or perhaps want to make sure more players from rival teams participate in what is ultimately a midseason exhibition) will be able to vote for the so-called "All-Star First XI" until 11:59 p.m. July 5. They can do so by either going here or texting a player's last name to 22442. Between June 17-20, MLS will also be running a Twitter vote, which works like this: anyone who wants to vote via social networking must tweet a player's Twitter handle (e.g. @CharlieDavies9) or his full name with no spaces (e.g. perrykitchen) to the league's official Twitter account (@MLS) and use the hashtag "#MLSAllStar."
The remaining 21 selections will be determined by New York head coach Hans Backe, who will manage the MLS All-Stars in the match against United; MLS Commissioner Don Garber; and a round of player voting. It should be noted that the "All-Star First XI" will NOT necessarily turn out to be the actual starting XI for MLS.
Davies is perhaps the most notable nominee of United's six, as he is currently locked in a three-way tie for second among MLS' leading goalscorers with six tallies. The New Hampshire native is two behind Landon Donovan of the Los Angeles Galaxy and level with Thierry Henry of New York and Chris Wondolowski of San Jose.
Kitchen, selected with the third overall pick of the MLS SuperDraft this past January, has started eight of United's 12 games this season and scored his first career MLS goal in a 3-2 win at Portland May 29. McCarty, acquired in an offseason trade from the expansion Timbers, has started 10 games this season, recording one assist and eight shots. Najar, last year's MLS Rookie of the Year, is tied for the club lead in assists with two (along with Blake Brettschneider). Wolff, another offseason acquisition, has chipped in three goals and an assist, often while playing alongside Davies as a striker. Pontius, in his third year with United, has scored four goals and leads the team in minutes played (1,005 over the season's first 12 games).