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Exclusive: Atlanta United dominates final MLS All-Star fan voting

Atlanta and Mercedes-Benz Stadium will host Juventus on Aug. 1 as the opponent in the MLS All-Star game. Atlanta United had six players voted into the squad by the team's supporters. (Atlanta United)
Atlanta and Mercedes-Benz Stadium will host Juventus on Aug. 1 as the opponent in the MLS All-Star game. Atlanta United had six players voted into the squad by the team's supporters. (Atlanta United)

Dominating the standings and attendance, Atlanta United also dominated the voting for the MLS All-Star game, which will be played against Juventus Aug. 1 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Six Atlanta United players -- goalkeeper Brad Guzan, striker Josef Martinez, midfielders Miguel Almiron, Ezequiel Barco and Darlington Nagbe, and defender Michael Parkhurst -- were voted into the MLS All-Star Fan XI. This will be Almiron’s and Parkhurst’s second consecutive All-Star appearance. Six is an MLS record.

“They are incredible,” Parkhurst said of Atlanta United  fans. “From day one, until now it’s been amazing. Everyone sees it on a game day, and the passion they bring and the excitement and the atmosphere they create. But it’s everywhere. It’s when you are out about in the city and people recognize and the support they give you. It’s when you go to do a player appearance and go to sign autographs for an hour and there’s a line the whole time.”

The rest of the Fan XI is composed of talent that, combined with Commissioner Don Garber’s two selections and manager Gerardo Martino’s remaining 11 selections, which will be made later this summer, should make for a competitive game against the Italian powerhouse.

Joining the Atlanta United players are L.A. Galaxy striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who scored 23 goals in 70 appearances for Juventus from 2004-06, and LAFC’s Carlos Vela, who was voted in through the EA Sports More than a Vote Challenge. Ibrahimovic has seven goals and three assists in 11 appearances, and Vela has seven goals and five assists in 12 appearances.

Last year’s league MVP, Diego Valeri of Portland, is the remaining midfielder. He has six goals and three assists in 14 appearances.

The other two defenders are LAFC’s Laurent Ciman and Sporting KC’s Graham Zusi.

The Fan XI may not be selected by Martino as the starting 11, but the group has a bevy of World Cup experience, which may help. Ibrahimovic is a two-time World Cup participant with Sweden. Ciman (Belgium) and Zusi played in 2014. Guzan played in 2010 and ’14.

Martino knows what he will get from Atlanta United, which leads MLS with 34 points, and its fans in terms of support.

“It’s an honor,” Guzan told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It’s a compliment to our fan base and how much they value our team, how much they value the city in terms of how welcome we are and what it means to be a host city for such a prestigious event. It’s an honor. It’s exciting. It should be a good week.”

Martinez leads MLS with 14 goals this season. Almiron is among the favorites to challenge Valeri for MVP with six goals and seven assists. Barco, 19, has three goals and one assist. Nagbe, acquired from Portland in the offseason, has three assists.

Atlanta United holds several MLS attendance records, including single-game (72,035), set this season, and season average (48,200), set last year. It leads the league in average attendance again this season with more than 48,000. Tickets for the All-Star game can be purchased from ticketmaster.com.

“They love the team,” Parkhurst said. “And we try to show them the love right back. It’s awesome that they got out there and voted for us. I speak for all six of us when I say that we are fortunate and thankful for their support.”

The MLS All-Star Fan XI:

Goalkeeper Brad Guzan, Atlanta United. His first All-Star selection.

Defender Michael Parkhurst, Atlanta United. His second consecutive selection and sixth overall.

Defender Laurent Ciman, LAFC. Has three goals in 13 matches for the expansion team.

Defender Graham Zusi, Sporting KC. Has two goals and an assist for the Western Conference’s top team.

Midfielder Miguel Almiron, Atlanta United. His second consecutive selection, has six goals and seven assists in 17 appearances.

Midfielder Ezequiel Barco, Atlanta United. Has three goals and one assist in 12 appearances.

Midfielder Darlington Nagbe, Atlanta United. Has three assists in 17 appearances.

Midfielder Carlos Vela, LAFC. Has seven goals and five assists in 12 appearances.

Midfielder Diego Valeri, Portland. Has six goals and three assists in 14 appearances.

Striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, L.A. Galaxy. Has seven goals and three assists in 11 appearances.

Striker Josef Martinez, Atlanta United. Leads MLS with 14 goals.