From Preki to Sallói: A look at 25 years of Kansas City MLS All-Stars

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Courtesy Sporting KC

LOS ANGELES — The MLS All-Star has taken many forms since the league was founded in 1996.

From East versus West, to playing the United States men’s national team to playing Chivas from Mexico, Chelsea and Manchester United from England, Real Madrid from Spain, Roma and Juventus from Italy and Bayern Munich from Germany.

A constant throughout the 25 editions of the All-Star game is the inclusion of a Kansas City player among the stars selected to take part, albeit with one technicality.

1996-1999: Preki

The first ever MLS All-Star game was played at Giants Stadium in New Jersey and featured the East versus the West.

The Kansas City Wiz were in the Western Conference and featured three players on the roster: Preki, Mo Johnston and Digital Takawira.

Preki scored for the West who lost the game 3-2.

The following year, Kansas City fielded six all stars, the most in franchise history: Takawira, Preki, Johnston, Mark Chung, Damien Silvera and Richard Gough.

Takawira scored, but the West lost to the East 5-4.

The 1998 edition pitted the MLS USA All-Stars versus the MLS World All-Stars.

Preki was on the USA roster representing the Wiz and scored, while Johnston and Uche Okafor were on the World roster who lost 6-1.

1999 brought back the East vs. West format with Preki and Alexi Lalas being selected from Kansas City. Preki found the back of the net, yet again, this time, the West winning 6-4.

2000-2003: More Preki

The same year that the Kansas City Wizards won their first MLS Cup, they fielded five players on the Western Conference All-Stars in Columbus, Ohio: Tony Meola, Matt McKeon, Peter Vermes, Preki, Chris Henderson.

This marked Preki’s fifth consecutive All-Star selection, a feat only matched one other time by a Kansas City player.

The game ended 9-4 in favor of the East, but Kansas City would have plenty to cheer about a few months later.

In 2001, only McKeon was selected from the Wizards. Preki spent a year at the Miami Fusion who would disband a year later allowing for his return to the club.

The two sides tied 6-6 in San Jose.

Preki returned to the All-Star game in 2002 alongside Meola and Mike Burns who represented the United States men’s national team and Chris Klein representing the MLS All-Stars.

The MLS defeated the US 3-2 at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.

2003 would be the end of an era. Preki was the sole representative from the Wizards and it would be his final time being selected.

Preki is tied for the most All-Star appearances by a Kansas City player in franchise history.

2004-2009: Conrad

The only other player to appear in five straight MLS All-Star games is defender Jimmy Conrad.

From 2004 to 2008, Conrad suited up for the All-Stars as the format began to change.

In 2004, Conrad, Kerry Zavagnin, Josh Wolff and Chris Klein suited up for the MLS West in what would be the final time the MLS All-Star game would feature the East vs. West matchup. The East won 3-2.

The MLS All-Stars defeated English Premier League side Fulham 4-1 in the 2005 edition of the contest. Conrad was selected to represent Kansas City and played all 90 minutes.

In 2006, Conrad once again was the only player selected from KC as the All-Stars defeated English powerhouse Chelsea 1-0.

Conrad was joined by Eddie Johnson and Kevin Hartman in 2007. The All-Stars took down Scottish Premier League side Celtic 2-0

Another EPL side, West Ham United, flew overseas to take on the MLS All-Stars in 2008 and also fell, this time by a 3-2 margin.

Conrad was once again the sole Wizards selection in what would be his final selection.

Davy Arnaud was the Kansas City representative in 2009 when the MLS All-Stars lost to EPL side Everton in a penalty kick shootout. Arnaud missed his penalty during the shootout.

2010-2019: Besler, Zusi and the Sporting KC era

The technicality that keeps Kansas City’s streak of representation in every MLS All-Star game alive came in 2010.

Goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen was selected to the inactive roster of the All-Star game as the final Kansas City Wizards player before the rebrand in 2011.

The MLS All-Stars lost to Manchester United 5-2.

2011 ushered in a new era in Kansas City soccer. A new name, new brand, new stadium and now, new All-Stars.

Overland Park native Matt Besler made his first of 5 appearances as an All-Star in 2011 alongside Mexican international Omar Bravo.

The All-Stars once again faced Manchester United and lost by a 4-0 margin.

Five SKC players were selected to the All-Star game when UEFA Champions League winners Chelsea came to PPL Park in Pennsylvania: Nielsen, Graham Zusi, Aurelien Collin, Roger Espinoza and Kei Kamara.

The All-Stars returned to winning ways defeating the European giants 3-2.

Zusi would be named to the 2013 through 2015 All-Star games alongside Besler who would extend his streak to 2016. Collin would join the duo until 2014.

The 2013 All-Star game was hosted at then-Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas, and Italian side Roma came to town led by US international Michael Bradley. Roma defeated the MLS 3-1.

The trio of Zusi, Besler and Collin were joined by Dom Dwyer in 2014 as the MLS All-Stars defeated Bayern Munich 2-1.

Benny Feilhaber joined Zusi and Besler in 2015 as they helped the MLS take down Tottenham Hotspurs 2-1.

Besler was the sole representative in the 2016 matchup against Arsenal, but was injured and unable to play in the 2-1 loss.

Spanish giants Real Madrid visited Soldier Field in Chicago to take on the MLS All-Stars in 2017, with Zusi being the only Sporting player selected. Real defeated the All-Stars in a penalty kick shootout.

Ilie Sanchez joined Zusi in 2018 to play against Italian champions Juventus. The All-Stars again lost in a penalty kick shootout. Zusi converted the first kick from the spot for the All-Stars.

Zusi would tie Preki with his seventh All-Star appearance in 2019. The All-Stars welcomed Atletico Madrid to Exploria Stadium in Orlando. Atletico won 3-0.

2020-Present: COVID-19

The 2020 edition of the MLS All-Star game was supposed to pit the best players in Major League Soccer against the best players from Liga MX in Mexico.

It was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and postponed until Wednesday, August 25, 2021.

Homegrown-product and MVP candidate Dániel Sallói is the Sporting KC selection to take on Mexico’s best players form their domestic league.

Sallói is the first-ever homegrown player in franchise history to be named to represent the league and can become just the third Kansas City player to score in an All-Star game.

The Hungarian has scored 12 goals and added 6 assists so far this season. He leads SKC in both categories and is second in the golden boot race to fellow All-Star Raúl Ruidíaz from the Seattle Sounders.

His stellar performance so far this season also earned him his first ever call up for the Hungarian men’s national team.

Sallói places his name amongst several Kansas City soccer legends to represent the team with the best of the league.

Still in the midst of a pandemic, health and safety protocols surrounding COVID-19 are in place at Banc of California Stadium.

Fans will be required to wear a mask at all times, regardless of vaccination status and the California Department of Health recommends fans get vaccinated or provide a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of the game.

The matchup will kickoff at 8:30 p.m. from Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles, California.

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