[MLS] With several teams adding significant players during the domestic transfer window, the standings could look much different in late September than they are in late July. Not likely, though, is the collapse of Los Angeles, Columbus or Real Salt Lake. They are the top three teams in points and also fill eight slots in Soccer America's midseason Best XI. New York, second in the Eastern Conference, has spots on the Best XI, while FC Dallas, which has lost just two games, is well-represented among the backups.
Goalie: Donovan Ricketts (Los Angeles).
Defenders: Omar Gonzalez (Los Angeles), Jamison Olave (Real Salt Lake), Chad Marshall (Columbus).
Midfielders: Javier Morales (Real Salt Lake), Joel Lindpere (New York), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles), Guillermo Barros Schelotto (Columbus), Marco Pappa (Chicago).
Forwards: Edson Buddle (Los Angeles), Juan Pablo Angel (New York).
Subs: Will Hesmer (Columbus), Tim Ream (New York), George John (FC Dallas), Sebastien Le Toux (Philadelphia), Daniel Hernandez (FC Dallas), Dwayne De Rosario (Toronto), David Ferreira (FC Dallas), Alvaro Saborio (Real Salt Lake), Fredy Montero (Seattle).
FORWARDS. Edson Buddle is not only leading the league with 12 goals, he’s been scoring them in a variety of ways: headers, first-timers with both feet, precise finishes from tight angles. New York’s success has been largely fashioned by a tougher defense, yet Juan Pablo Angel has scored nine goals, half of his team’s total.
MIDFIELDERS. Guillermo Barros Schelotto plays more as a second forward much of the time for the Crew, and Landon Donovan can wind up anywhere on the field for the Galaxy, so they are the midfield attacking catalysts along with Real Salt Lake's Argentine Javier Morales. To back up this trio, newcomer Joel Lindpere is re-defining the holding midfield role and buttressing the much-improved Red Bulls. Results for Chicago have been inconsistent, yet young Guatemalan Marco Pappa is always a danger on the flanks.
DEFENDERS. Five teams are conceding less than a goal per game, and most teams have at least one defender playing extremely well. The stingy Galaxy is led by Omar Gonzalez, the 2009 Rookie of the Year who is the antithesis of a sophomore slump. Massive Jamison Olave anchors the RSL back line, and Chad Marshall is in the midst of another solid campaign with the Crew. These guys are not only tough to beat one-v-one they also bail out their teams at critical moments. Despite their size, and they’re all big lads, they close quickly.
GOALKEEPER. He doesn’t face as many shots as his counterparts so it’s tempting to downgrade the work of Galaxy goalie Donovan Ricketts. But with a 0.59 goals-allowed average, and a confident command of his penalty area that defuses chances before they become shots, he’s the pick.