Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
The All-American MLS Best XI
by Ridge Mahoney, February 14th, 2013 6:49PM
Subscribe to Soccer America Confidential

MOST READ
TAGS:  mls

MOST COMMENTED

By Ridge Mahoney

In past seasons, filling out an all-American MLS Best XI would entail great, shall we say, compromise. There were few, if any, worthy candidates at key positions such as attacking midfielder and in some seasons the pickings were pretty slim at outside back.

More teams means more candidates at more positions, of course, and a feared dilution of talent through rapid expansion has been mitigated by an increase in the number of foreign slots per team to eight. Though the SuperDraft has been cut down to two rounds, there’s a general consensus that more players are coming out of college better prepared for the pro game.

As several teams drifting away from the traditional 4-4-2 formation and take on their own unique identities, pegging a Best XI involves some compromise as well as subjective judgments. (This Best XI is designed to reward the top performers and probably wouldn’t be practical in its 3-4-3 formation.)

This selection is based primarily on league performances during the 2012 MLS season. As of now, they are all employed by MLS teams. Filling the gap between the American players selected by U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann and the MLS Best XI, we present this hybrid list. Let the quibbling begin.

Goalkeeper – Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake). He’s being pressed by younger challengers such as Tally Hall (Houston), Sean Johnson (Chicago) and Bill Hamid (D.C. United) but his reflex saves and unquenchable spirit keep him on top.

Defender – Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City). The Notre Dame product has been a back-line stalwart for SKC, earned Defender of the Year honors in 2012, and claimed his first cap against Canada.

Defender – Jeff Parke (Philadelphia). He played the most minutes of any field player and with a variety of centerback partners, so he must have had something to do with Seattle’s second-best goals-allowed mark of 32. He should be a key cog as Philly rebuilds.

Defender – Omar Gonzalez (Los Angeles). He’s the linchpin of the league champion, a rugged defender who can dominate in the penalty area at either end of the field, and on the fast-track to national team stardom. His return from injury last year stabilized a shaky Galaxy defense and helped claim a second straight title.

Left midfielder – Brad Davis (Houston). He’s always among the league’s assist leaders. He hits the best left-footed serves seen in MLS since the days of Eddie Lewis and in the past few seasons has sharpened his edge playing centrally.

Holding midfielder – Dax McCarty (New York). A bright spot in an otherwise disappointing Red Bulls’ season, he gives new head coach Mike Petke a kindred spirit imbued with the same determination and dedication. His positional sense and accurate passing are not always appreciated on a team studded with glamorous names.

Central midfielder – Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City). His attacking prowess playing multiple positions in MLS prompted some unrealistic expectations when called to the national team; for him, running the show as SKC vies for its first MLS Cup appearance in more than a decade is job one.

Right midfielder – Chris Pontius (D.C. United). He finished the season playing more on the left but his skill and guile are effective anywhere in the attacking third. His health is essential for United and quite possibly the national team this year.

Forward – Chris Wondolowski (San Jose). A record-tying season of 27 goals confirms his status as one the league’s most dangerous players, and his ability to slide into midfield will again confound opponents in 2013.

Forward – Landon Donovan (Los Angeles). He and Robbie Keane form the most lethal forward partnership in MLS and regardless of his numbers, his acumen on the dribble, knifing through from midfield, or running onto balls is unsurpassed in MLS.

Forward – Eddie Johnson (Seattle). His rebirth after four long seasons in Europe doesn’t seem like a fluke. His powerful runs into the channels are difficult to defend and he’s much more effective checking back than he was before heading overseas.

Reserves -- Tally Hall (Houston), Seth Sinovic (Sporting Kansas City), Austin Berry (Chicago), Steve Beitashour (San Jose), Brad Evans (Seattle), Osvaldo Alonso (Seattle), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Chris Rolfe (Chicago), Kenny Cooper (FC Dallas), Alan Gordon (San Jose).



4 comments
  1. John Soares
    commented on: February 14, 2013 at 7:43 p.m.
    AH, Opinions; Every body has one (or several) and is entitled to it. But really, McCarty had a better year than Alonzo!?
  1. John Soares
    commented on: February 14, 2013 at 7:54 p.m.
    OK..... I misread it. Americans only. My bad.
  1. Paul Cox
    commented on: February 15, 2013 at 3:56 a.m.
    Osvaldo Alonso is an American citizen. McCarty ahead of him is a freaking joke.
  1. James Froehlich
    commented on: February 15, 2013 at 10:55 a.m.
    "there's a general concensus that more players are coming out of college better prepared for the pro game." C'mon Ridge, you don't really believe that do you? Or is it possibly because your publication's livelihood depends upon the colllege soccer environment!! College soccer is boring, boring, boring. It's game is not only an aesthetic travesty but since it is the pot of gold at the end of the soccer development rainbow it is the origin of our youth development mess. I also found it quite emblematic that in your list of Best XI there is only one Hispanic and he is a defender!!!! Other than that great job, Ridge!!!!!

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Confidential
MLS expansion teams address their needs directly    
The first SuperDraft of the expansion teams United is in the books. Minnesota went for a ...
Family team effort helps Abu Danladi rise to MLS No. 1 pick    
Abu Danladi's mother was unable to come from Ghana to join him in Los Angeles and ...
MLS 2017: How Eastern Conference teams look on the eve of preseason    
The New York teams finished one-two in the regular season, but the conference's 2015 MLS Cup ...
MLS 2017: How Western Conference teams look on the eve of the SuperDraft    
No more Robbie Keane or Bruce Arena in L.A., a coaching change in Houston, and a ...
USA's January Camp: It's all about the here and now    
When Bruce Arena accepted the job as U.S. national team coach for a second time in ...
MLS Positional Awards: Bingham takes top goalkeeping spot    
It was a strange year for goalkeepers in MLS. Colorado conceded the fewest goals with two ...
MLS Positional Rankings: TFC duo heads the pack at outside back    
MLS teams don't spend much on outside backs. They've been only marginally affected by increases in ...
MLS Positional Rankings: Birnbaum and Van Damme command the centerback slots     
The three-man back line is gaining favor in MLS as well as around the world, but ...
MLS Positional Rankings: Lodeiro and Piatti dominate the flanks    
Not many MLS teams field a truly dominant winger or wide midfielder; two that did, Seattle ...
MLS Positional Rankings: Kljestan, Felipe, Alonso top the midfield slots    
For players who toil in the middle of the park, roles and classifications often overlap as ...
>> Soccer America Confidential Archives