IT TOOK LESS than 6 months for Faryd Mondragon to become an MLS All-Star. The Colombian international has only been in MLS since February but his Union teammates use words like "leader," "general" and "security blanket" when referring to him.
Tonight, the 40-year-old goalkeeper extraordinaire will showcase his talents on a world stage beneath the lights at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J., when the MLS All-Stars look to exact revenge against English giant Manchester United (8:30 p.m., ESPN2, TeleFutura). Sir Alex Ferguson's United trumped MLS' best last season, 5-2.
"When you play at that level, you approach every game exactly the same whether it's a friendly or the European Cup final. You play to win," said Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder David Beckham, a former United star himself who will be making his second All-Star appearance. "United players don't come over here just for a holiday and have a nice run around the field. They come over here to win. They come over to work hard. We know Manchester United are going to want to play this game, want to get their fitness up - not want to get an injury - but also want to win the game. We're well aware of that."
Mondragon, along with Houston's Tally Hall will be the keepers representing MLS. Despite Mondragon's numbers being more impressive, (0.81 goals against average in 19 games, seven shutouts), it's expected that Hall (1.29 GAA in 21 games, four shutouts) will earn the start. Hall has led Houston to a 5-7-9 mark, while Mondragon and the Union are 8-4-7.
"It's an honor for me to represent my club and my teammates at the All-Star Game," said Mondragon. "It will be a really nice experience for me. I am pleased to have this opportunity."
Mondragon is a stalwart who has played for 14 clubs since starting his professional career in Colombia with Deportivo de Cali (1990-91). His best years came, however, while playing for Istanbul for Turkish power Galatasaray, winning a pair of league titles and qualifying for the UEFA Champions League.