On July 31 in Orlando, Florida, the best of the best in Major League Soccer will be taking on La Liga giants Atletico Madrid in the 2019 MLS All-Star Game.
The roster for the MLS squad features big name stars from across the globe, like the LA Galaxy’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic, LAFC’s Carlos Vela, D.C. United’s Wayne Rooney and Atlanta United’s Josef Martinez.
But the squad is also littered with talented players who first made a name for themselves in the collegiate ranks.
Let’s look back on the NCAA careers of these brilliant players.
Chris Wondolowski, San Jose Earthquakes — Chico State (Division II)
Wondolowski is a known commodity in MLS. Earlier this season, the veteran forward wrote himself into the league’s record books when he passed Landon Donovan for career goals. He’s now scored 152 goals in MLS and is appearing in his fifth all-star game. He is also the lone Division II product playing in the game. For the Chico State Wildcats from 2001 through 2004. He was a four-time California Collegiate Athletic Association selection, a second-team All-American in 2003, and scored 39 goals in 84 matches there. In 2003, he helped the Wildcats to a NCAA Division II Championship runner-up finish.
Another record in the books for @ChicoMensSoccer alum @ChrisWondo whose 42 match winners are the most in @MLS history. His brace gives him 150 career goals, adding to his MLS record and more importantly to him led the @SJEarthquakes to their 3rd win in their last 4 matches. https://t.co/KhwwhKJCZ7— Chico Wildcats (@ChicoWildcats) May 27, 2019
Matt Hedges, FC Dallas — Butler; North Carolina
Hedges will make his third all-star game appearances this season. A stout center back, he’s started 16 games for FC Dallas this season, who are fourth in the Western Conference table. Hedges grew up in Indiana, but split his collegiate career between Butler and North Carolina. With the Bulldogs from 2008 through 2010, he was a second team All-American and a two-time Horizon League Defender of the Year while scoring 12 goals in 59 games. In 2011 with the Tar Heels, Hedges was named ACC Defensive Player of the Year while helping lead UNC to a national championship. He had six goals and an assist in 26 starts with the Tar Heels.
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Walker Zimmerman, LAFC — Furman
Zimmerman is making his first all-star game appearance this season, where he’s anchored an LAFC defense that is the best in the league, allowing just 20 goals in 21 games. Zimmerman has also been a danger on set pieces for LAFC, as he scored four goals in 26 games last season for the then-expansion side. At Furman, he scored 11 goals in 39 games between 2011 and 2012. For the Paladins, he was the SoCon Freshman of the Year in 2011 and a second-team All-American in 2012. Zimmerman also recently featured for the U.S. men's national team in the Gold Cup.
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Graham Zusi, Sporting KC — Maryland
Zusi appearing in the all-star game is just normal at this point. The former Maryland Terrapin is appearing in his seventh all-star game this season. He’s started in 14 games for Sporting KC at 32-years-old, dishing out two assists this season. With the Terps, Zusi scored 28 goals in 89 games and helped Maryland win a pair of College Cups. He was also important for the U.S. men’s national team in 2014, helping the Stars and Stripes make it out of the Group Stage, providing assists against Ghana and Portugal.
Andre Blake, Philadelphia Union — UConn
Blake, who is also the starting keeper for the Jamaica men’s national team, is making his second appearance in the MLS All-Star Game. He has tallied a pair of clean sheets this season and has helped the Union get to the top of the Eastern Conference table. For the Huskies from 2011 through 2013, Blake was one of the best keepers in college soccer. He was the Big East Goalkeeper of the year in 2011 and 2012, and then won the same award in the American Athletic Conference in 2013. He racked up 37 clean sheets over 68 appearances and was the first overall selection in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft.
Congrats 👏🏾😤 to former UConn soccer ⚽️ great @andreblake29 on his selection to the 2019 @MLS All-Star Game! Check out some of his incredible highlights below ⬇️— UConn Men's Soccer (@UConnMSOC) June 25, 2019
🎥 Cred: @PhilaUnion pic.twitter.com/mCMGQRoh70
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Brad Guzan, Atlanta United — South Carolina
Guzan is making his third all-star appearance and has long been one of the best American goalkeepers, featuring on a pair of World Cup rosters, a pair of Gold Cup rosters, and manning the goal for the U.S. at the 2008 Olympics. Last season, he was between the pipes for Atlanta United as the Five Stripes went on to win the MLS Cup. At South Carolina, Guzan appeared in 38 games for the Gamecocks and was a second-team All-American in 2004. He had 13 clean sheets for the Gamecocks.
Nick Rimando, Real Salt Lake — UCLA
At 40-years-old, Rimando is still a steady keeper in MLS. He’s appearing in his ninth all-star game this season, by way of the Commissioner’s Pick. Rimando is the first MLS goalkeeper to notch 200 wins and he’s also the league’s all-time leader in saves, shutouts and games played. Rimando played in 48 games at UCLA between 1997 and 1999, and manned the goal for the Bruins’ College Cup winning team in 1997.
Mitchell Northam is a graduate of Salisbury University. His work has been featured at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Orlando Sentinel, SB Nation, FanSided, USA Today and the Delmarva Daily Times. He grew up on Maryland's Eastern Shore and is now based in Durham, N.C.