Fresh off a World Cup appearance, Francisco Calvo will be Minnesota United's first representative in the MLS All-Star Game on Aug. 1 in Atlanta.
The Loons' captain is one of 14 selections by All-Star and Atlanta United coach Gerardo "Tata" Martino that were announced Friday morning. There are 24 players total, with 11 fan-voted players and two commissioner picks as well.
Calvo will have the chance to play against Italian powerhouse Juventus at 6:30 p.m. Mercedes-Benz Stadium alongside such league stars as the LA Galaxy's Zlatan Ibrahimovic and LAFC's Carlos Vela.
"That he's going to be in an All-Star game and probably play at some stage against the likes of [Gonzalo] Higuain and [Paulo] Dybala and all this, it's good for him," Minnesota United coach Adrian Heath said. "Great exposure for the club. It's going to be nice to have our name out there like it was in the World Cup.
"I'm pleased for the club because we'll get some recognition in Europe and, obviously, Italy … but more importantly, it's a reward for him for all the hard work he's done over not just since he's been here but since he's been starting his career."
Heath said Calvo was one of the players the club discovered and signed, and he is aware of how coveted the 25-year-old center back is around the league. The coach said United has fielded "a lot of interest" in Calvo in his 1½ years with the team, and there's still potential for the defender to improve. While Calvo drew scrutiny after a rocky start to the season with several individual mistakes costing United goals, Heath has maintained Calvo could become one of the league's best center backs.
Heath and Calvo spoke by phone earlier this week. Heath said the player was "bitterly disappointed" at Costa Rica's two close losses and a draw in the World Cup. Calvo started the first game, a 1-0 loss to Serbia, and came on as a substitute in the second, a 2-0 loss to Brazil, before sitting out Costa Rica's 2-2 draw against Switzerland.
He returns to the Loons on Sunday. Heath said he will assess if Calvo is physically and mentally ready to play against Toronto FC at 6 p.m. Wednesday at TCF Bank Stadium.
Unitedused targeted allocation money to make Calvo one of its marquee signings ahead of its inaugural MLS season in 2017. He extended his contract earlier this season through 2020, with options for another two years.