The Blast's Billy Ronson likes being disliked. Especially when that lack of affection doesn't interfere with a spot on his first Major Soccer League All-Star team.
"It is a little bit of cake," said Ronson, who was one of Kenny Cooper's three "coach's selections" for the East All-Star team that was released today. "I appreciate the coach picking me. The way I look at it is it's a compliment not to be liked around the league," he said of the selection process, where players are asked to vote for non-teammate peers within the division. "It's a compliment they find it so hard to vote for me.
"I guess they'll all look at me and wonder what I'm doing there, but I'll just look at them and laugh, because I was picked by my coach and obviously he thinks I'm doing something right. The hard part might be finding me a roommate for the game."
Not that Ronson, Baltimore's leading scorer with 25 goals and 26 assists in 31 games, will be the only Blast member accompanying Cooper to Kansas City Feb. 13. Defender Bruce Savage, forward Dale Mitchell and goalkeeper Scott Manning were elected to the squad, and forward Domenic Mobilio was another of Cooper's "selections," along with Kansas City defender Iain Fraser.
Savage was chosen an All-Star for the seventh time, and Manning, who has missed 13 games with injuries this season, for the fourth. Mitchell, who joined the Blast this season, will be making his third consecutive All-Star appearance. Mobilio, in his third season, will be playing in his second All-Star Game.
The Eastern Division-leading Comets also placed five players.
Joining Fraser are forward Jan Goossens, midfielder Carl Valentine, defender Kim Roentved (selected for a record 10th time) and goalkeeper Jim Gorsek.
"It is a 10-year dream come true," said Gorsek, 35, who will be making his first All-Star appearance. "I thought when I played for San Diego I had a chance to make it, but never did. It's an honor."
In the West, St. Louis and San Diego each will be represented by five players. The team will be coached by Cooper's old adversary, the Sockers' Ron Newman.