Oct 30, 2012

My MLS Best XI 2012 (U24)

The MLS season is done and just before Hurricane Sandy came along to bust everything up.  Of course, lots of season awards are being dished out and the Playoffs are upon us.  So, with the season concluded, it is time to name some Best XI's.  I will have two in the next two days--an overall Best XI and, in keeping with MLS' 24 under 24 theme, a Best XI under 24.

Best XI under 24.

Goalkeeper:  Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire).  There are really only two names to consider in this category, Sean Johnson or Bill Hamid.  You could not go wrong with either of these guys between the pipes.  Johnson played more games, faced more shots, had more saves and a pretty good Goals Against Average (1.24).  Hamid, other the other hand, lost his starting job to Joe Willis and had to fight to get it back, posted a miniscule 1.03 GAA and seemed to come up with big saves when he needed to.  In the end, I just had to toss a coin and went with Johnson.  Sean Johnson is the guy.

Honorable Mentions:  Bill Hamid (DC United), Zach McMath (Philadelphia Union), Ryan Meara (Red Bull New York)

Defenders (4):  Sheanon Williams (Philadelphia Union):  There is a reason why you will find a number of young players considered for this XI from Philadelphia, because John Hackworth is used to working with young players and has no problem relying on them.  Williams is a good example, he is an engine on the Union flank, bombing up and down the flank tirelessly.  Strong in defense, with pace and able to whip in a dangerous cross on the attack, Williams is solid, smooth and worthy of watching.  Hopefully a little consistency in the Union technical staff will be helpful.  

Austin Berry (Chicago Fire):  He might be a consensus Rookie of the Year (or at least darn close).  Berry was poised, strong and clearly ready for MLS, even if no one thought him so during the 2012 Draft.  Under the tutelage of Arne Freidrich and Frank Klopas, the Louisville product made his presence felt, but not in a flashy way.  He got the job done, whatever that job was.

Matt Hedges (FC Dallas):  Another rookie, Hedges stepped up and played well for a team that struggled mightily this year.  Hedges is a big guy (like Berry) and clearly strong in the air.  But less noticed is that Hedges can also play with the ball at his feet.  Another Geoff Cameron?  Time will tell, but Hedges earned his pay and then some this year.  

Chance Myers (Sporting Kansas City):  Now in his fifth(!!) year, Myers has blossomed under Peter Vermes' almost frenetic style of play, which suits the active and busy Myers.  Providing lots of width and some good crosses into the powerful striker force.  With seven assists this season, Myers has proven that he can get the job done providing the width to Vermes 4-3-3.

Honorable Mentions:  Andy Najar (DC United), Kevin Alston (New England Revolution), Gershon Koffie (Vancouver Whitecaps), Connor Lade (Red Bull New York)

Midfielders (4):  Perry Kitchen (DC United).  In his second year with United, Kitchen moved into the Defensive midfielder role, his preferred position, and has blossomed into a spectacular leader on the pitch.  Kitchen does what a holding midfielder must do, sit in front of the back four, bust up the plays, tackle and transition.  He has the makings of a solid midfield general in the Kyle Beckerman mold but with the versatility of Shalrie Joseph. 

Juninho (L.A. Galaxy):  With all the big personalities on the Galaxy squad, Donovan, Beckham, Keane, Omar Gonzalez, and Buddle, it is still hard to see how the Galaxy does what it does without Juninho.  A true box to box midfielder with near perfect positioning, a great tackling ability, precision passing and a wicked long range shooting ability, Juninho is the fulcrum around which L.A. pivots--without him I am not sure Bruce Arena's men go far in the playoffs.

Nick DeLeon (DC United):  DeLeon was making a case early in the season for Rookie of the Year.  He hit a wall (like lots of non-defender Rookies) but credit to him for working through it.  During the stretch run when DC United lost Dwayne DeRosario to injury, DeLeon stepped up and played well.  Pairing well with the aforementioned Najar, it is possible that this DC right flank could turn into a nightmare for defenses for their playoff foes and for next year.

Luis Silva (Toronto FC):  If Silva had been anywhere but the train wreck that is Toronto FC, I believe he could have made a much bigger impact on a team.  But toiling in Toronto no doubts has added to his character.  With five goals and five assists, which equates to 25% of Toronto's goal scoring.  Word out of the Toronto camp from Paul Mariner is that he would not have taken Silva as the 4th Pick (Mariner fancied Nick DeLeon).  Not sure if that is smart, unless Mariner is looking to make Silva trade bait.  Still Silva is a great pick and could be a fabulous building block for the constantly rebuilding Toronto FC.

Honorable Mentions:  Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake), Andy Rose (Seattle Sounders FC), Danny Cruz (Philadelphia Union), Felipe Martins (Impacte de Montreal)

Forwards (2):  Jack McInernery (Philadelphia Union).  After suffering lack of minutes under Peter Novak, McInernery got the nod for new coach John Hackworth and blossomed.  Surprisingly strong with his back to the goal and deadly around the goal, the 19 year old pumped in 8 goals (almost 1/4 of the teams goals) and chipped in 3 assists on a team that otherwise suffered for the season.  

CJ Sapong (Sporting Kansas City):  SKC coach Peter Vermes must sometimes think he has died and gone to striker heaven.  Sapong is one of the young engines of creation and goal scoring that put SKC at the top of the Eastern Conference. Sapong's 9 goals and 2 assists helped, but perhaps not as much as his pure energy on the pitch.  Constantly moving, he is hard to keep track of for defenders and that makes him a constant danger.

Honorable Mentions:  Darren Mattocks (Vancouver Whitecaps), Will Bruin (Houston Dynamo)

No comments:

Post a Comment