Since All-Star games are for … well … marketing and theatrics.
TSG’s Best-At-The-Break 2013 regardless of injuries, stats, etc. Purely through observation.
Let’s the in-fighting, ex-fighting, name-calling begin!
G: Nick Rimando
The skinny: The guiding force on a being-made-over RSL team. His distribution and ability to play the ball at his feet solves a number of problems for RSL and continually saves RSL from winning a ball back punted up the field. And he’s been a phenomenal shot stopper yet again this year.
Honorable mention: Clint Irwin
LB: Chris Klute
The skinny: …. and it’s not even close. Klute is still raw, but he uses his speed and physical ability extremely well and his dedication to getting forward in the attack continually demands the opposition to second guess their use of his flank on the attack. Terrific. Just terrific.
Honorable mention: Corey Ashe
CB: José Gonçalves
The skinny: Gonçalves is a one-man wrecking crew for the league’s leading defense. He’s their captain and while he may stray a little bit from his line on occasion he makes it back up with his tackling and blocks.
Honorable mention: Aurélien Collin, Jamison Olave
CB: George John
The skinny: This pick is astonishing here at TSG. But when it comes down to it, FC Dallas are an above average defensive team with John in the line-up and well-below without him. That simple. The straw that stirs the pot.
Honorable mention: Matt Besler (Note, still have Besler as my defender of the year horse .. but lots of ground though to catch up to Gonçalves) , Nat Borchers
RB: Zach Loyd
The skinny: Probably the most difficult selection here and there are some acute holes in Loyd’s game, but–whether he occasionally stands up his guy too far up the field–Loyd has the defense and doesn’t try to do too much in possession. His crossing is underrated.
Honorable mention: Andrew Farrell. Farrell has made his rookie mistakes, but he’s also been a mainstay on the Revs #1 defense. Earlier in the year he was asked to manage a lot of possession out of the back and he did adequately. Looking at the other RB options available, you can live with his mistakes of inexperience.
Footnote: DeAndre Yedlin. Fast, fierce and woefully in need of some positional guidance. He’ll get there. I think. But cries for him to be on the national team right now are … premature.
CDM: Kyle Beckerman
The skinny: Admittedly a homer pick here at TSG. Beckerman does everything right and he’s consistent. When you can be counted on as a non-variable in the possession game–meaning his teammates trust him regardless of situation–that’s a major weapon that most teams don’t have.
Honorable mention: Diego Chara has been the Osvaldo Alonso of the Pacific Northwest this year. Yeah, that just happened. Michel for Dallas. Oriol Rosell
MF: Will Johnson
The skinny: Outside RSL’s shadow and asked to adopt a technical role, Johnson has flourished. His leadership and engine–never in question–are on display again this year.
Honorable mention: Juninho. Just look at the Galaxy’s penchant to leak goals when Juninho isn’t on the prowl.
MF: Graham Zusi
The skinny: The Roger Federer-Rachel Weisz just snuck in here. Zusi, like last year, shot out of the gates with a bang to begin the season, but some tactical moves that seem to occasionally minimize his impact has slowed what started as an MVP type season. He’ll get back there. One of the quickest on-ball thinkers in MLS.
Honorable mention: Rodney Wallace, Russell Teibert, Kelyn Rowe
CAM: Javi Morales
The skinny: Unreal that Morales wasn’t a chosen All-Star. Morales have been a little Duece-like for RSL in that he’s often the focal point of the other’s defense, but he keeps making the players required to create scoring chances. He’s finally back after his awful ankle injury that seemed to hurt his physical preparation and mental focus. Welcome back to the MVP game Javi!
Honorable mention: Federico Higuaín, Camilo Sanvezzo (this was the tightest call)
FWD: Robbie Keane
The skinny: Stop it. Stop it right now. Keane is masterful off the ball. It doesn’t matter that he whines to refs, castigate teammates or has been bitten by the injury bug a few stretches of the season. He’s that good. Ask any coach in the league to pick a striker they’d want for a one-game elimination and you’re flipping coins with Henry and Keane.
Honorable mention: Mike Magee, Jack McInerney
FWD: Juan Agudelo
The skinny: Agudelo’s teams score when he’s on the field, they fall flat in attack when he’s on the pine or in street clothes. It’s that simple. With Agudelo as lynchpin in the early season Chivas USA attack, the Goats were scoring goals in bundles and at a very high percentage to shots taken rate.
Migrating east to the Revolution, Agudelo again ignited another team’s attack. Deigo Fagundez owes his lunch money through the end of the season to Agudelo drawing defenses and distributing the ball to him with good looks on frame.
Honorable mention: Thierry Henry, Conor Casey
Best XI Breakdown: RSL (3), Revs (2), FCD (2), Galaxy (1), Timbers (1) SKC (1), Rapids (1)
Honorable mention breakdown: SKC (3), RBNY (2), Union (2), Revs (2), Timbers (2), Whitecaps (2), Fire (1), Crew (1), Dynamo (1), RSL (1), Rapids (1), FCD (1), Galaxy (1)