FRISCO, Tx. — FC Dallas players Matt Hedges and Paxton Pomykal were selected to the 2019 MLS All-Star team Monday. The team will take on La Liga side Atletico Madrid on July 31 in Orlando.
For Hedges, it’s his third straight All-Star game appearance, being selected by the respective coaching staff in each of the matches. Along with the fan vote, Orlando City’s James O’Connor picked 13 players to help make up the roster for the match.
“Obviously, it means the coaching staff of the All-Star game thinks highly of you when they pick you, so that’s exciting,” Hedges told Pro Soccer USA. “It’s a fun experience. Three years in a row, it’s cool to go and play against some of the best teams in the world in a great atmosphere. The best players in the league are there.”
Hedges’ 2019 MLS season has proved to be another case of consistency for the eight-year pro. Hedges has started 16 out of 17 matches for Dallas, missing a game only due to suspension. He has proved vital to the backline, leading the team along with center back Reto Ziegler with his strong aerial ability and desire for the ball. His play was recognized by O’Connor’s staff, showing that others in the league are taking notice of the 29-year-old’s play.
“It’s nice that the other coaches in the league see the quality a lot of the guys had,” Hedges said. “There’s a lot of guys who aren’t going to get picked in the fan XI because there’s reasons. When you look at the coaching picks, you see a lot of the guys who are really performing well during that year.”
In addition to the fan vote and team choices, MLS commissioner Don Garber selected Pomykal as one of his two players to be on the All-Star roster. The homegrown has shined during the season, playing in 10 matches, providing a spark in the midfield that has received plaudits across the league.
“[Garber] could’ve picked anyone and there’s a lot of guys who didn’t get called to the All-Star game that definitely deserved to be there,” Pomykal said. “I’m honored to be one of his two picks because there’s guys I definitely think should be there that aren’t there.”
Pomykal has emerged as a player for the future, not only for club but for country. His performance in the U-20 World Cup as captain showed he could play on one of the world’s biggest stages. Now, he will have that opportunity once again, against a top European side in Atletico Madrid.
“It’s an honor,” Pomykal said. “Obviously, I’m super excited to be able to represent the club and myself and my family. It was kind of a surprise for me. It took a while to sink in yesterday but once it did, I settled down and I’m really happy.”
When asked about the two, coach Luchi Gonzalez emphasized that the players aren’t focused on the individual accolades. The recognition comes from focusing on the team’s overall play and is a byproduct of it, not the actual goal.
To prove Gonzalez’s point, Hedges spoke about the next match on August 3 against Orlando City after the All-Star game when asked about the advice he’d give Pomykal when going to his first All-Star game.
“Just to have fun, not to overdo it,” Hedges said. “It’s a midweek game and we have a big game on Saturday right after that. Take it in, enjoy the experience but don’t overdo it.”