SAN JOSE, Calif. – Chris Wondolowski could only laugh at the notion that San Jose Earthquakes teammate Steven Beitashour, a first-time MLS All-Star, would be forced to shepherd Wondolowski’s luggage when both men travel to Philadelphia later this month to face English giants Chelsea.
“Hey, I’m still a rookie,” said Wondolowski, who was named along with Beitashour as part of the MLS First XI. “I’m not Landon Donovan; I think that’s his 39th appearance. This is only my second. We’ll both probably have to be carrying balls and picking up cones after [practice]. I think both of us are excited to do it.”
As the league’s leading scorer, Wondolowski would have made the All-Star team regardless of this weekend’s announcement, but he was grateful to accept the honor from the First XI electorate: MLS fans.
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“It’s a huge honor, because the fans are voting, and I’m a strong believer that we have some knowledgeable and passionate fans,” Wondolowski said. “That whole list, it’s pretty special.”
For Beitashour, being named to the First XI caps a meteoric rise through the American soccer ranks. In the fall of 2005, the San Jose native was a walk-on freshman at San Diego State who loved watching attacking fullbacks in the manner of Ashley Cole. Come July 25, it could be Beitashour who’s doing the attacking from his right back spot – and on the same field as Cole’s squad.
“I never thought I’d be selected onto the All-Star team for MLS,” Beitashour said. “I didn’t get many awards in college, I just worked hard every day. To get an award like this, it’s really cool. I never experienced all this hype. I’m just really appreciative and honored to be a part of it.”
Beitashour said he was a little surprised to be picked by the fans, given that he’s one of the few Quakes without a Twitter account.
“I just didn’t see this coming,” Beitashour said. “I’m so excited, I couldn’t believe it. I don’t think it’s still fully hit me. I’m still worried about these games coming up right now. I think once I go there, it’s all going to hit me: Dang, you’re on the All-Star team.”
Wondolowski is hoping they won’t be alone in making a quick turnaround on All-Star week – the Quakes play on July 22 in Vancouver.
“Steven’s had a great year all year, it’s great to have him involved,” Wondolowski said. “I’d be shocked if [midfielder Marvin] Chávez or [defender Víctor] Bernárdez aren’t involved as well. I think that they belong there.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.