Photos by ISIPhotos.com
By IVES GALARCEP
For all the talk about Major League Soccer being a league for older players, the reality is that more and more young players are breaking through and establishing themselves as key figures on top teams throughout the league.
The 2012 season was a good showcase for some of the league’s best young standouts, and a look at the SBI MLS Under-23 Best XI shows that there is some quality talent working its way through the pipeline.
D.C. United leads the way with three players on the Under-23 Best XI, with Bill Hamid leading the way, having just edged out Chicago Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson for the nod. The Philadelphia Union are represented as well, with two players among the Under-23 Best XI.
Please keep in mind that the SBI MLS Under-23 Best XI is a group selected based on the seasons they just had in 2012. This list isn’t necessarily meant as a list showing who the very best young prospects are. As we know, not all of the league’s top young prospects had good seasons, be it due to injury, team struggles, or their own battle with form.
Also note that the criteria for qualifying for the SBI MLS Under-23 Best XI is being born in 1989 or sooner.
No, these selections are based purely on performances turned in during the 2012 MLS season. With that in mind, here is the SBI MLS Under-23 Best XI:
SBI MLS Under-23 BEST XI
—————–Will Bruin——-Jack McInerney——————
——Felipe Martins————————–Nick DeLeon———
Ashtone Morgan—————————————-Andy Najar
——————-Matt Hedges——Amobi Okugo—————-
HONORABLE MENTION- Sean Johnson, Zac MacMath, Connor Lade, Sheanon Williams, Ray Gaddis, Luis Gil, Perry Kitchen, Martin Rivero, Gershon Koffie, Kelyn Rowe, Darren Mattocks, Fabian Castillo
There were obviously some very tough decisions to make, particularly in midfield. Rivero, Gil and Koffie were all strong candidates for the first team, as were Mattocks and Castillo. Sean Johnson was barely edged out by Hamid, who turned in a strong finish to the season to grab the spot.
You will notice no Brek Shea on the list. He really didn’t have a strong season by his standards. It would have been tough to imagine this list without Shea, Freddy Adu, Teal Bunbury or Juan Agudelo when the 2012 season began, but circumstances ranging from injuries to team struggles to individual struggles with form led to all four being left out.
We tried selecting natural positions for the Best XI to offer a better measure of where the talent is in the league. There were Under-23 players who had better seasons than Ashtone Morgan, but he had the best season of any Under-23 left back in my opinion. TFC may have had an awful season, but he was one of the bright spots.
What do you think of the team? Who didn’t make the first team that you feel should have? Who didn’t make either of the lists that you feel deserved a spot?
Share your thoughts below.