[MLS] Most teams in MLS play with a four-man back line, yet somehow the league mandates its Best XI be arrayed in a 3-5-2. Whatever the alignment, here are our selections for the men who did the most in 2010.
Goalkeeper: Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake).
RSL head coach Jason Kreis insists that all his players carry some of the defensive load, so opponents don’t get many good looks at Rimando’s goal. Still, with a 0.67 goals-allowed average and 14 shutouts, he did his part and then some. He’s quick, reads situations shrewdly and very rarely comes out for balls he can’t get to.
Defenders: Nat Borchers (Real Salt Lake), Omar Gonzalez (Los Angeles), Jamison Olave (Real Salt Lake).
Olave and Borchers anchored a unit that conceded a league-record low of 20 goals, and in his sophomore season Gonzalez endured a few hiccups to take his place among the league’s top defenders.
Midfielders: David Ferreira (FC Dallas), Sebastian Le Toux (Philadelphia), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles), Javier Morales (Real Salt Lake), Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado).
Along with four attacking forces, we give a nod to former U.S. international Mastroeni, who formed a solid tandem with Jeff Larentowicz to propel the Rapids into the postseason. Had Philly somehow made the playoffs LeToux might have been the MVP; his range, touch and production (14 goals, 11 assists) were all superb. Donovan led the league with 16 assists, Ferreira fueled a potent FCD attack, and Morales orchestrated an RSL offense that led the league with 45 goals.
Forwards: Chris Wondolowski (San Jose), Edson Buddle (Los Angeles).
Two of the best finishers in the league did the business to finish a goal apart in the Golden Boot race: 18 for Wondo, 17 for Buddle. Yet neither are static poachers entirely dependent on great service, both can make chances for others or create shots for themselves.
Second XI: Kevin Hartman (FC Dallas), Tim Ream (New York), Chad Marshall (Columbus), Drew Moor (Colorado), Kyle Beckerman (RSL), Joel Lindpere (New York), Bobby Convey (San Jose), Juninho (Los Angeles), Dwayne De Rosario (Toronto FC), Omar Cummings (Colorado), Conor Casey (Colorado).