COLUMBUS, Ohio — Some Major League Soccer players and officials are upset because the league's top three scorers were passed up in fan voting to choose the starters for this year's All-Star game.
But the Columbus Crew's Dante Washington, the league's No. 2 scorer, isn't complaining. Coaches chose him as a reserve.
"Either way, you're still an all-star," said Washington, who will play for the East team. "I'm just happy to get the chance to show the fans what I can do."
The selection process appeared to benefit the league's better-known players and those from teams in large markets. Five starters for the East are from New York-New Jersey and four from the West are from Los Angeles. Columbus, the league's smallest market, had no starters.
Head coaches for the East and West teams were allowed to pick eight reserve players each, and the league commissioner was allowed to choose one for each team.
League scoring leader Mamadou Diallo of Tampa Bay was picked as a reserve by New York-New Jersey coach Octavio Zambrano, who will coach the East.
"I think the people need to vote on the players who proved it on the field," Diallo said. "In Europe, the fans select all the good players. But here, everything is political."
West coach Bob Gansler of the Kansas City Wizards chose the league's third-leading scorer, Jason Kreis of Dallas, after fans passed him by.
Kreis said he would like to see the voting process changed.
"Shouldn't everybody be concerned about it if Lothar Matthaeus is a starter? How many games has he played this season?" Kreis said. "He may deserve to be there because he is a star, but not for what he has done on the field this year."
Matthaeus, a New York-New Jersey defender, has played 10 MLS games, none since injuring his back June 28 against San Jose.
Another concern was that fans voting on the league's Web site might have been using a computer program to cast bogus votes.
"When you run the ballots on the Internet and people can vote multiple times, you don't always get a realistic representation," Washington said. "Unfortunately, no one will every really know how much the fan voting was affected by the computer program."
David Richardson, associate producer for the league's Web site, said he corrected the problem by tracking the individual addresses of the computers that voted and deleting about 8,000 illegal votes.
"I don't see (that) the cyber voting in anyway artificially inflated anybody's numbers," Richardson said.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber, who selected Brian McBride of Columbus and Luis Hernandez of Los Angeles as reserves, acknowledges that the league is looking for a satisfactory method of choosing players.
"We might have focused too much at first on the coach's decisions, and now maybe were relying too much on fan voting," Garber said. "We will evaluate that in the offseason."
Washington, in the middle of the best season of his career, credits Crew teammate Roland Aquilera for starting a ritual that he said helps him score.
"One day, he rubbed my shoes and then his shoes and I scored, and then kept on scoring until one day he forgot, and I didn't score. Now it's both of our superstition," said Washington, whose 14 goals and seven assists put him three points behind Diallo and five ahead of Kreis in the scoring race.
"I hope he visits me in the locker room Saturday or I will have to find him in the stands."