Montreal Impact forward Marco Di Vaio is going to the MLS all-star game, thanks to scoring 73,838 goals in a week.
The Italian veteran had a lot of help. The goals were scored by video gamers as part of the AT&T MLS All-Star “In the Game” Challenge.
A fan vote has already selected 10 MLS all-stars for the July 31 contest against A.S. Roma at Sporting Park in Kansas City. The 11th player, from among the remaining forwards on the all-star ballot, was determined by who scored the most goals in the made-in-Canada “FIFA Soccer 13” game on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 from noon July 3 to noon July 10.
One goal equalled one vote.
“I am honoured to be the first player voted into the All-Star Fan XI by the millions of ‘FIFA Soccer 13’ players round the world,” Di Vaio said in a statement Thursday. “I want to thank all my fans who spent so many hours playing ‘FIFA Soccer 13’ to help secure me a spot on the Fan XI.”
The news was scheduled for release at 11:30 a.m. ET Thursday but Impact boss Joey Saputo jumped the gun by sending a tweet in Italian, French and English.
“Greetings @divaio9 for your selection to the 2013 all-star game. First Impact player to make the MLS All Star team,” said the tweet.
Irish international Robbie Keane of the Los Angeles Galaxy was runner-up with 69,797 goals.
In all, 488,611 goals were scored with eligible MLS forwards during the video game challenge.
The video game component of the all-star selection is the first in any pro sports league, according to Electronic Arts.
EA already had the technology in place to track the goals scored, by virtue of its servers which connect online to FIFA gamers.
In real life, Di Vaio needs little help scoring. The Italian, who turns 37 on July 15, is tied with Chicago’s Mike Magee for the league lead in goals with 11.
Di Vaio, who is from Rome but played for Roma’s local rival Lazio, also leads the league in shots (65) and shots on goal (34).
Other Canadian team players on the video game challenge were Robert Earnshaw of Toronto FC and Camilo Sanvezzo of the Vancouver Whitecaps.
The first 10 members of the all-star team were chosen by fan voting online at MLSsoccer.com, via text message and Twitter.
Forwards already chosen by the fans are Thierry Henry of the New York Red Bulls and Chris Wondolowski of the San Jose Earthquakes.
The fans also voted in Canadian international midfielder Will Johnson of the Portland Timbers.
MLS commissioner Don Garber will make two additional selections while coach Peter Vermes fleshes out the game-day squad.
MLS and EA collaborated on the all-star video game contest.
This year was a test run but Electronic Arts senior marketing manager David Pekush says EA is “all in for next year to do this again and we’re hoping that the MLS feels the same way.”
Electronic Arts is no stranger to partnering with soccer leagues.
EA Sports is a founding partner of the Vancouver Whitecaps and the club’s official video game partner.
With the FIFA game made in suburban Burnaby, the two are neighbours as well as business partners.
EA Sports is also the official sports technology partner of the English Premier League.