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Revs coach Brad Friedel excited for Zahibo All-Star call, but laments timing

revolution midfielder Wilfried Zahibo
Jul 31, 2018; Atlanta, GA, USA; Ezequiel Barco (left) makes a pass by Wilfried Zahibo during the MLS ALL-Star training session at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England Revolution coach Brad Friedel is proud to have Wilfried Zahibo representing the club at the 2018 MLS All-Star Game – he just wishes the annual exhibition wasn’t scheduled in the middle of the season.

MLS All-Star and Atlanta United coach Tata Martino selected Zahibo for Wednesday night’s clash against reigning Italian Serie A champions Juventus at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. He is New England’s 18th All-Star Game call-up since 2005.

“Wilfried will enjoy himself, going down and playing against one of the world’s best teams and also with some very good players assembled from across Major League Soccer,” Friedel said after training at Gillette Stadium on Monday. “It’s nice to be selected as an All-Star. I really wish we didn’t have an All-Star Game in the middle of the season, so we have fingers crossed that he comes back unscathed. But for Wil, it’s a great honor and I hope he enjoys his time.”

During Monday’s MLS All-Star opening news conference, Martino expressed a similar opinion, calling the timing of the midseason All-Star game “a little bit of a challenge” and suggesting it be held before or after the regular season.

This is Zahibo’s first season in MLS. The Revs acquired the 24-year-old French central midfielder on a free transfer from Gimnastic in January. Zahibo has three goals and four assists so far this season.

The MLS All-Star team includes 24 outfield players, all of whom are expected to play some part in Wednesday night’s game against Juventus, which views the exhibition as a preseason tune-up.

Wednesday will mark MLS’ second All-Star Game featuring an Italian opponent. In 2013, the MLS All-Stars, which are 9-6 all-time, fell 3-1 to Roma in Kansas City.

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