SBI MLS Best XI (March/April)

Steve Zakuani (BillBarrettISI)

Photo by Bill Barrett/

The first month of the MLS season had its share of excitement, fast-rising stars and surprising developments. It also had its share of players who easily stood out from the rest.

Picking the SBI MLS Best XI for April (and March) was far from easy, but it wasn't difficult to start with the Los Angeles Galaxy, which has raced out to an incredible start to its season. That made putting four Galaxy players on the April Best XI an easy call.

The toughest position to pick may have been in goal, where Bouna Coundoul and Jimmy Nielsen both enjoyed some stellar performances and could have grabbed the Best XI spot for the first month of the season.

Youth is also served in this group, with two rookies on the squad.

So who made the SBI MLS Best XI for the first month (and a week) of the MLS season? Here are our selections:


—————————Edson Buddle—————————–

—-Dwayne DeRosario——————–Landon Donovan——-

Steve Zakuani———-Joel Lindpere————-Patrick Nyarko

————————-Stephane Auvray—————————-

———Tim Ream—-Omar Gonzalez——Ike Opara————-

————————Donovan Ricketts—————————-

HONORABLE MENTION– Bouna Coundoul/Jimmy Nielsen, Wilman Conde, Mike Chabala, Mike Petke, Pablo Mastroeni, Ryan Smith, Marco Pappa, Jeff Larentowicz, Bobby Convey, Sebastien LeToux, Omar Cummings.


What did you think of these selections? Who didn't make the Best XI that should have? Who do you think should be dumped from the squad? Anybody you would like to see on honorable mention?

Share your thoughts below.

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59 Responses to SBI MLS Best XI (March/April)

  1. Steve says:

    3-6-1? Even a 3-4-3 would be odd, no one in MLS uses 3-man back lines and expects to win anymore.

    That said I think Roger Torres and Osvaldo Alonso are glaring absences here.

    (SBI-It’s a squad honoring our picks for best players of the month. Exactly who cares if the formation is a bit unorthodox? Besides, DeRosario and Nyarko both saw time at forward this month so call it a 3-5-2 if that will really make you feel better (and yes, it’s a 3-4-3 the way I have it listed, which I personally wouldn’t mind playing if I could have those three defenders.)

    Torres had some nice moments this month but Best XI? Not quite. I do agree that Alonso could have made honorable mention, but there were a lot of good candidates.)

  2. MLS 4 Life says:

    Red Bulls representing!

    Hans for president!

  3. wilbur06 says:

    2 rookies and a 2nd year for our defenders. And all americans.

  4. Josh D says:

    DC United last season…. Er wait….

  5. Blake says:

    Good to see Nyarko get his props. The guy has been incredible but doesn’t have the flash or goals to show for it. Nice call on him, definitely shows you’ve been watching the games.

  6. jsquaredny says:

    Thank god JPA did not make this list because you would have lost a lot of credibility there Ives….

  7. Chicago - Scott says:

    Patrick Nyarko gettin props… I like it!!!

  8. the rick says:

    Schelotto – 3 goals, 3 games, best player on the pitch in 2 of those 3 games undoubtedly.

    (SBI-I left Columbus out of the mix since they only played three matches. Not really a fair sample size compared to the rest of the league. I’m sure Guishermo will be on a few Best XI month teams before the season is over.)

  9. josip says:

    I think Lindpere made a good impact the first few matches but the last 2 or three he has looked average, he needs to step it up in order to compensate for NY’s lack of forward production.

  10. Lorenzo says:


  11. sread says:

    Most of this XI is pretty legit. One could make a case for Conde being a starter, but all the defenders are awesome. I can’t believe no RSL players are listed, despite their talent. It’s not mistake by Ives, no one has really stepped up for them yet. Morales could be an MVP if he could stay healthy.

  12. dbag says:

    Kljestan has played well. Maybe not best 11 material yet, but he has proven he is the best player on a chivas team that needs help bad.

    (SBI-Not sure I can agree with that one. He’s had one good game so far, vs. San Jose. The rest has been pretty forgettable.)

  13. Don Joe says:

    Once fans in this country start talking about Conde as one of the best players in the league without using the qualifier of “defender”, then I will know we’re finally getting somewhere.

    (SBI-Conde is the best defender in MLS and one of the best players. Not sure anybody argues against that too vehemently. He would have made this Best XI had he been healthy all season.)

  14. jig says:

    where’s Kei Kamara?!

  15. Bryan says:

    LeToux instead of DeRosario in my opinion. Glad to see Nyarko get his props, hopefully the Fire will start doing better.

    (SBI-LeToux has done well, which got him honorable mention, but DeRosario has literally carried TFC. LeToux has had some help from Moreno and Torres.)

  16. bkyn says:

    It will be interesting at the end of the season to see if the Red Bulls made a mistake not picking Opara.

    (SBI-Considering how good Tim Ream looks I don’t think New York is regretting that decision one single bit. Tony Tchani isn’t playing yet but he’s definitely a talented young player, as he showed in the Open Cup win vs. Philly. I happen to be a big believer in Opara’s skills, but Ream-Tchani is better than Opara-anybody else they might have taken with their second round pick.)

  17. Martin Blank says:

    Since the Sounders have mustered next to nothing up front, it has to be said that the backline is what has kept them in it. And no one has stood larger than El Presidente. He missed the TFC match, and see what happens? Hurtado is the best defender in this league.

    (SBI-Martin, I’ve always liked Hurtado and think he’s solid, but he’s not better than Wilman Conde. Secondly, I might have included him here if not for that first goal penalty fiasco vs. FC Dallas. He didn’t have his best game that day and they dropped points. I suppose that stuck with me. Much like Schelotto, I’m sure Hurtado will make a few Best XIs going forward.)

  18. Looks like a 3-1-3-3 to me which you will see Chile playing at the World Cup.

  19. Knuckles says:

    I have to agree with Blank on this one (not that El Presidente is the best defender in the league, but that he’s a pretty glaring omission).

  20. trickhog says:

    He just missed it.

  21. lassidawg says:

    IF there was a foul on the penalty play in Dallas it would have been called on Gonzalez, so that shouldn’t have been what kept him out.

    That being said it is nice that the expectations are so high for the 2nd year team that we are disappointed with an 0-1-2 road record. One lousy call from 1-1-1 which any team would take.

    I haven’t looked that hard has there been any word on Le Toux’s injury?

  22. bkyn says:

    I was also impressed with Tchani’s Open Cup game, but pikcing Opara and Ream was an option. The Red Bulls would have been set on defense for quite a while.

  23. madmax says:

    Ives, couldn’t find an argument with your picks, and I looked hard, that scares me.

  24. DC Josh says:

    Ives, how come you don’t have any DC United players in your best XI?

  25. sread says:


  26. bottlcaps says:

    An interesting conundrum at the Goalkeeping position. I agree that Ricketts is a good goalkeeper, but, he is behind a really good defensive line with the LA Galaxy. The number of saves he has to make is a lot smaller than some of the more defensively challenged teams. Ricketts has made the saves he needed to make to keep 4 clean sheets, although I think he did flub Beckerman’s shot allowing a goal. But my hats off to some of the other goalkeepers whose leaky back lines means that they will constantly be making great saves to keep their teams in contention. Coundoul,Neilsen., et al are probably the better keepers, right now, just because of the sheer NUMBER of saves they need to make, both spectacular and routine, jsut to keep their teams in the game.

  27. Charles says:

    For those that worry the MLS will never be a top league, it is definitely getting better. That is a lot of youth in that starting 11.

    The MLS would be smart to lock in some of those players long term.

  28. Lee says:

    Ives i really want to know what you think on this question . Who is the best leftback in MLS ?

  29. JJ says:

    You’re thinking about the 2nd penalty. Hurtado had a huge screw-up on the first one. That was all him. Other than that play, he’s been the 2nd best defender in the league.

  30. huck1eberry says:

    Leaving Conde off I think is a mistake. He has been a big part of why the Fire have back to back clean sheets.

    (SBI-That’s two games out of five. If he hadn’t missed time due to injury he probably makes the Best XI, but he did, so he didn’t.)

  31. bstoeff says:

    Matt Besler and Roger Espinoza should be in the Honorable Mention even more so with Jimmy Conrad going down for the last match and a half the Wizards D has given up one goal in four games and that goal should not have stood because of Evans 15 yard advance on the throw in.

  32. shelbo says:

    Nice one trick!

  33. Good call bstoeff. Only an opportunistic Seattle and a half-asleep Escobar is responsibly for the only goal against KC so far this season.

    Glad to see Stephane Auvray getting the props he deserves for being a beast in the KC midfield. Auvray and Jack Jewsbury just might be the most underrated midfield tandem in the league right now.

    Crazy to think that KC is only 2 plays away from having 10 points right now (Seattle’s goal and Kei’s not goal). But the future is looking brighter in KC, just need a more consistent goal scorer now.

  34. Charles says:

    Tell me those two plays aren’t going to haunt KC fans down the stretch in typical MLS rediculously close season.

  35. Lucy says:

    They will haunt us if we miss winning the Shield or home field by 1 or 2 points. Notice I didn’t mention making the playoffs…..cuz we will be there this season. :)

  36. CA says:

    Glad to see Zakuani getting props. If our backs and mids were better with the ball he’d be getting more consistent service, and more goals. His confidence with the ball is growing more and more with each game. If he has a great rest of the season I wouldn’t be surprised if a lower/mid level EPL team takes a chance on him next year. I believe he has a British passport.

  37. Don Joe says:

    SBI – Glad to hear you agree with my assessment, and understand why he was left off the list. I’m still shocked he’s never even had a look from the full Colombian NT. Could you imagine him next to Gooch?

  38. sread says:

    Can’t disagree there. They remind me of RSL’s team last season. Once their forwards can finish…it’ll be an avalanche. If they can heat up in the playoffs they’lll pull off another RSL stunner.

  39. Kev says:

    He does and he will

  40. lassidawg says:

    You are correct I have spent so much time being pissed at the second I forgot all about the first one.

  41. This Guy says:

    Tim Ream over Wilmen Conde?

    That’s gotta be a mistype

    (SBI-No, not really. The clearcut best defender on the best team in the Eastern Conference who has played every minute and has been arguably his team’s best players get the nod over the league’s best defender who missed games early on. It happens. Conde’s still the best centerback in the league, but Ream has the skills to be pretty quickly.)

  42. Sergio of SF says:

    Yeah, I like his game. Him and Pappa really spark the Fire’s attack. Mapp has been good recently too.

  43. Sergio of SF says:

    Conde is the best.

  44. Chris says:

    They need help in midfield too though, and the initial belief was that Tchani could be a defensive mid. They also picked up Albright and Miller in the off season, so I think Tchani was the right choice no matter what.

    The fact that Ream has turned out to be so good has just allowed them to focus more on creativity in the midfield now with Tchani and new transfers like Lindpere and Nielsen.

    (SBI-There was no “initial belief that Tchani could be a defensive midfielder.” The Red Bulls knew that wasn’t Tchani’s game from jump, Richie Williams had the full scouting report on him from Virginia and said before the draft that Tchani was more an offensive-minded linking central midfielder than d-mid (people assumed d-mid because of his size). They took Tchani because they thought he had the most upside, which may very well still be true. Also, the people saying NY could have taken Opara and Ream aren’t being realistic. A team with needs all over doesn’t load up on centerbacks when no team trying to win right away is going to start two rookie centerbacks.)

  45. hank f says:

    Tim Ream has been fantastic.

  46. C says:

    I agree with everyone who says Conde is the best defender in MLS. The guy gets knocked off the list because he missed 1 game? Kinda harsh. :)

    (SBI-He gets knocked off the list because the other three defenders have had bigger impacts through the first month+(and yes, missing one game didn’t help him when the others have played every game). If I had gone to four defenders he would have been on the squad. Conde has not had a better first six weeks than Gonzalez or Ream, that much I can say with utmost certainty. You could argue against Opara, but he’s scored two game-winning goals for San Jose, which gives him the edge.Chicago’s early-season struggles didn’t help Conde’s cause either.

    Anybody who has read this site knows I’m as high on Conde as anybody, if not higher, but for April’s Best XI he just misses out and gets honorable mention.)

  47. MadKingGeorge says:

    IF they are indeed playing a 3-1-3-3 , I am really looking forward to their group games. If Spain is not not careful Chile could catch them with that unusual formation. Match up problems to be exact. The other games against Switzerland and Honduras should be no problem.

  48. FCBTony says:

    USMNT WC 2014:

    Left back

    – Mike Chabala

    – ’nuff said

  49. Matt says:


  50. Neruda says:

    My four favorite national teams are actually split up into two groups which sucks. 1. US 2. Chile. 3. Spain 4. England. Good chance all four can advance from group play. Chile looked outstanding during qualification.

  51. MadKingGeorge says:

    Why is exactly is LD (Lands) in the first 11. For the first two months he has I think has one assist and has done nothing really but to divert attention. He is one of the top players in the league and I think that will be shown in the entire season but not after the first 5 games. He left his game in Liverpool I think so far. He is playing it conservative and it going to really strive for his game in the WC and hope for a transfer to a World Class club. With the money that is involved I can understand his conservative playing.

  52. UPtehTOON says:

    If you think Switzerland will be a push over, you obviously haven’t seen them play.

  53. MOUF says:

    what is crazy is without that miss he would have 3 in 4 games, which might get him a mention

  54. MOUF says:

    i might be preaching Espinoza as for LB at world cup if he werent Honduran

  55. Jake Oliver says:

    great to see three young American centerbacks on the squad.

  56. Luke of seattle says:

    Yeah look out for WC 2014. Those three guys will certainly be on the roster and hopefully we see a line-up in the back like this:


  57. Luke of Seattle says:

    We got some good players coming soon to the USA squad. This would be is my way to early look at the USA 2014 team.




    ———–Howard(age 31)———–

    I view Ream as a guy like Bocanegra who prefers to play in the middle and that h=is is=his best position, but the team overall would be better with him on the outside, due to the depth at Center Back. Ream keeps the ball and always looks to play to a teammate. With this line up the 2014 WC could see a great spike in USA performance. The USA will have replaced only three people form the desired line-up for 2010 and will have experience. Right now it looks as if all 11 of these guys will be playing in Europe if the progress of Ream, Gonzalez, and Opara continue like the are and that would give the USA a solid group with Altidore being the youngest player at 24 years. This could very well be our line-up if everything goes well. This would also boost the stock of the MLS as 9/11 have played in the MLS.

  58. jcr says:


    I agree with all of your picks except Petke. I have been to all of the Red Bulls games and it looks like Petke’s mistakes have not come to light because Ream has saved him several times. His passing is often off and with his lack of speed, he gets beat often. I would like to know why you picked him. I actually think Boyens would be an improvement over him due to his better ball control and passing.

  59. Scott says:

    My only complaint is what is Bobby Convey doing on this list? Aside from a beautiful winning cross to Opara in the Chicago game, he’s been largely a misery…okay, average. Maybe FOR HIM, that’s good, but for the league, not so much.