For the second straight year, Billy Ronson has been told by his peers in the Major Soccer League Eastern Division he isn't good enough to make the All-Star team.
Ronson's fellow players snubbed him yesterday in the voting for the 12th MSL All-Star Game, in Kansas City, Mo., Feb. 13.
But thanks to Baltimore Blast coach Kenny Cooper, the East's head coach, team, Ronson will make his first MSL All-Star Game appearance.
Ronson, who is having a career season in the MSL and leads the Blast in scoring with 25 goals and 26 assists, was one of three players selected by Cooper yesterday to complete the 16-man East squad.
Three Baltimore players, defender Bruce Savage, forward Dale Mitchell and goalkeeper Scott Manning, were named by the players.
It will be the seventh appearance for Savage and fourth for Mitchell and Manning.
Kansas City Comets defender Kim Roentved and Wichita Wings forward Dale Ervine led the voting by the players. Roentved will be playing in a league-record 10th All-Star Game.
Blast forward Domenic Mobilio and Kansas City defender Iain Fraser join Ronson as players chosen by Cooper.
Players were asked to vote for six offensive (forwards and midfielders) and six defensive (four defenders and two goalkeepers) players. They couldn't vote for teammates.
The failure of the 54 players from Kansas City, Wichita and Cleveland Crunch to pick Ronson may show that some votes are cast on the basis of reputation and possibly of friendship.
Crunch midfielder Mike Sweeney said yesterday that players around the league still consider Ronson "as a feisty player who is in the middle of all the ruckuses instead of a goal-scorer. They see him as an instigator to fire up the team."
Sweeney also said: "I don't know if Billy's image will ever change. He's the style of player who is always around trouble. The goal-scorers in the league are mostly nice guys who want to be liked."
Even though Ronson, 34, seemed disappointed by the results, he said he won't change his physical style of play that grates on the nerves of opponents.
"I'm not going to change the way I play just to make friends and get into the All-Star Game," he said. "If I don't change, I know I'll be 50 years old and still not be chosen by the players. I take it as a compliment that I'm such a pain to the other players that I drive them to the limits and sometimes beyond.
"If I change to try and make friends, first of all I wouldn't make it [All-Star team], and I wouldn't be playing for the Blast because Kenny wouldn't have me."
Wichita midfielder Chico Borja, who has had his share of run-ins with Ronson, said he didn't let personal feelings interfere with his voting.
"I voted for Billy Ronson because he's having a great year, and I respect his quality of play whatever his style is," said Borja. "I don't vote for friends. Billy has raised his confidence to the level you need to be a great player in this league. Billy and I could have a go at each other and fight but I would still vote for him."