By this rationale, players who went onto bigger things - such as Tim Howard and Clint Dempsey -- after a relatively short stay are passed over in favor of those who made MLS their career, more or less. But several players who have moved on are included. It all depends.
This insistence on success, rather than simple persistence, will rule out a few staunch veterans who consistently answered the bell but seldom drew official honors, and MLS originals whose careers wound down before the decade ended. Marco Etcheverry, for example, just wasn't what he was in his last four seasons (2000-03) than the quartet that preceded it.
SOCCER AMERICA'S ALL-DECADE (2000-2009) MLS XI
PAT ONSTAD (SAN JOSE/HOUSTON). Twice Goalkeeper of the Year and the honoree in the Best XI both times (2003, 2005), Big Pat took over for another two-time GOTY, Joe Cannon, and helped San Jose/Houston to three MLS championships.
JIMMY CONRAD (KANSAS CITY). He's been to MLS Cup only once, winning in 2001 with San Jose and finishing runner-up in 2004 with Kansas City. Three selections to the Best XI and a Defender of the Year award (2005) give the All-Decade Team a major dose of, shall we say, personality.
CARLOS BOCANEGRA (CHICAGO). He left after just four seasons (2000-2003) to play in England and then France, yet as Rookie of the Year he helped the Fire to the final, and nabbed back-to-back Defender of the Year Awards before departing, so it's tough to leave him out.
CHAD MARSHALL (COLUMBUS). Duplicated Bocanegra's feat with back-to-back DOTY awards the past two seasons and was a major reason the Crew won its first league title in 2008.
WADE BARRETT (SAN JOSE/HOUSTON). Three championship rings edge Barrett, who played two Danish league seasons before coming back to MLS, into the elite.
SHALRIE JOSEPH (NEW ENGLAND). The league's best player never to win the MVP Award or a league title, four Best XI honors in the past five seasons give some indication of his prowess.
DWAYNE DE ROSARIO (SAN JOSE/HOUSTON/TORONTO). The other-four time Best XI honoree, DeRo also has four championship rings and tied his career high in goals (11) to mark the first season for his hometown team.
LANDON DONOVAN (SAN JOSE/LOS ANGELES). Duh. He capped off a great decade that included three league titles and amazing playoff performances with his third Best XI mention and first MVP selection in 2009 He holds the record for playoff goals with 17.
STEVE RALSTON (TAMPA BAY/NEW ENGLAND). A paragon of professionalism and quiet dedication, he's the all-time league leader in assists, games, and minutes played.
TAYLOR TWELLMAN (NEW ENGLAND). Hit double figures in goals five times in six seasons (2002-07) before missing most of the past two years with injuries, he's the prototypical fearless forward.
JAIME MORENO (D.C. UNITED). The league's cleverest attacker for many years and its all-time leader in goals scored.
RESERVE SQUAD (20).
Goalkeepers - Kevin Hartman (Los Angeles/Kansas City), Zach Thornton (Chicago/Colorado/Chivas USA), Tony Meola (Kansas City/MetroStars/New York).
Defenders - Robin Fraser (Colorado/Columbus/Real Salt Lake), Jeff Agoos (D.C. United/San Jose/MetroStars), Eddie Pope (D.C. United/MetroStars/RSL), Michael Parkhurst (New England), Tyrone Marshall (Miami/Los Angeles/Toronto/Seattle), Ryan Nelsen (D.C. United).
Midfielders - Chris Armas (Chicago), Preki (Kansas City/Miami), Brian Carroll (D.C. United/Columbus), Pablo Mastroeni (Miami/Colorado), Cobi Jones (Los Angeles), Diego Gutierrez (Chicago), Guillermo Barros Schelotto (Columbus).
Forwards - Jeff Cunningham (Columbus/Colorado/RSL/Toronto/FC Dallas), Ante Razov (Chicago/Columbus/MetroStars/Chivas USA), Jason Kreis (Dallas/RSL), Carlos Ruiz (Los Angeles/Dallas/Toronto).