SBI MLS Mid-Season Best XI

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As we sit at the mid-way point of the 2013 MLS season, it isn’t that difficult to identify which players have been the very best in Major League Soccer so far, but when you take a closer look at every position, it can become a bit tougher to choose those who are the class of the season.

Identifying Mike Magee, Jack McInerney and Marco DiVaio as the cream of the crop at forward isn’t all that difficult, but when you start trying to figure out who the best centerbacks and fullbacks are, and which midfielders have been the best in the league this year, you can find the going a lot rougher.

A total of 10 different teams are represented on the SBI Mid-Season MLS Best XI, with Sporting Kansas City the only team to place two players on the squad. Graham Zusi and Matt Besler not only enjoyed strong runs with the U.S. Men’s National Team, they also continued to be among the very best in MLS in the process.

So who else made the cut? Here is the SBI MLS Mid-Season Best XI, along with our second team, third team and fourth team selections :



Mike Magee—————Marco DiVaio——————Jack McInerney

—————————–Graham Zusi————————————–

———————Michel———–Will Johnson—————————

Chris Klute——Matt Besler—–Jose Goncalves—–Sheanon Williams

—————————–Nick Rimando————————————


Camilo Sanvezzo———-Robbie Keane——————–Claudio Bieler

——————————Javier Morales————————————

—————–Patrice Bernier——–Marcelo Sarvas———————-

Corey Ashe——Aurelien Collin—Jamison Olave————-Zach Loyd

—————————-Donovan Ricketts———————————-


Rodney Wallace————Thierry Henry—————Landon Donovan

——————————-David Ferreira———————————–

—————–Kyle Beckerman——–Diego Chara————————-

Chris Tierney—Amobi Okugo——–George John—–Hassoun Camara

——————————Raul Fernandez————————————


Dominic Oduro————-Kenny Miller——————Diego Fagundez

——————————Federico Higuain———————————

——————-Tim Cahill————-Nigel Reo-Coker——————–

Seth Sinovic——Jermaine Taylor—-Nat Borchers———Tony Beltran

—————————–Bobby Shuttleworth——————————-


The selections were made by me, with the help of input from SBI staff writers Justin Ferguson, Dan Karell and Franco Panizo.

The selections for SBI MLS Mid-Season Best XI were made with specific positions in mind, so our squad features a left back and right back, along with two centerbacks. The purpose of this was in order to give credit to the top players at as many natural positions as possible We went with a 4-3-3 formation for all four teams in part because of the wealth of top central midfielders and forwards, and the overall lack of top wing options. Not every player’s position is exactly perfect to where they play all the time, but we tried to get as close as we could to that when filling out the teams.

What do you think of the MLS Best XI? Who are you happy to see make the team? Who are you disappointed not to see make the squad? Who is the biggest snub not included in any of our four Best XI teams?

Share your thoughts below.

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55 Responses to SBI MLS Mid-Season Best XI

  1. Nick4235 says:

    Not surprised to see Fagundez and Goncalves there in some form. Glad Tierney and Shuttleworth got some recognition. Is it fair to say they have been two of the most underrated players in MLS this year?

  2. dan says:

    Keane has carried the Galaxy on his back this season, I don’t know how the heck he is not first team…

    • Josh says:

      Because McInerney, Magee, and DiVaio have done more and been more important to their teams

      • Chris Whyte says:

        This is wrong on both points. Keane has the highest production in the league (7 goals, 8 assists) and has only played 11 games. That output is incredible and unmatched. Plus, no one is more important to their team than Keane is to the Galaxy. They are a much less effective team when he does not play. I think he is MVP of the league and should be in this best Best XI.

        • MetroWest_REVS says:

          While his tally of assists is impressive, a closer look at his 7 goals shows why Keane belongs on the 2nd team. 4 out of 7 of his goals came from PKs.

      • Jeff says:

        Isn’t Keane leading the charts in assists? Even more impressive as a striker not necessarily tasked with creating exclusively. Should be first team.

  3. Travis says:

    Not to cause an uproar among my fellow Sounders fans but nobody from them made any of the four teams? Think Traore has quietly been solid for them all year, Neagle could also have gotten some love I would think. Also I know Alonso has missed the last 3-4 games but before that he was his normal extremely good self.

    • Steevens says:

      Agreed, one has to think that the performances of at least one or two Sounders should have earned a spot on the top 4 teams. I’d be curious to know the reasoning behind excluding the following: EJ, Martins, Neagle, Yedlin, Traore and Alonso.

      • Travis says:

        I dont have problems with EJ or Yedlin not making it. EJ has been away on nats and only has like 4 or 5 goals I believe, other strikers have much better numbers and that is fine. Yedlin is great but still has trouble defensively so his exclusion makes sense. I could argue any of the other four though, Martins less so cause again I think other strikers have done more.

      • Paul Atkinson says:

        “Reasons for excluding” isn’t a productive way to look at it, as that’s not how the list was created. Rather, whom would you suggest bumping from one of the teams in favor of one of those players?

        Also, injuries do relate to one’s inclusion (at least if I were creating the list). If a player does phenomenal work when healthy but appears to have ankles of glass, that player is going to rank below one who’s nearly as good but plays the full 90 every match.

        In the end, it means nothing. Still if you think those players should be included, who gets bumped and why? That’s the fun, which is the list’s actual value.

    • Charles says:

      Ives weren’t you talking about how Sounder’s fans were being a little hard on their team, then not one guy can make 4 teams of 11 players ?

      • Ives Galarcep says:

        Well, to be fair, they’ve had some injuries. Alonso would absolutely be on a team, probably first team, if healthy. I get your point though.

    • kcee says:

      Suprised there is no love for the Gspurninator. I think he is a top 3 keeper right now.

  4. MB says:

    Keane is the MVP of this season and is on the second team…….

    • ld says:

      Di Vaio has been much better than Keane this year

    • SanFran415 says:

      Robbie Keane is in no Universe the MVP of the season.

      He can get in line behind a laundry list of people — Will Johnson, Mike Magee, Jack Mac, DiVaio, Zusi… could go on.

    • Jeff says:

      Seems like half his goals are PKs

    • Chodilicus says:

      Morales should also be in the MVP mix and probably needs to be on the first team. Despite missing the first month of the season, he has 4 goals and 6 assists to lead the best team in the league. I know that a lot of this is just based on stats and RSL has not been on national tv much at all. Zusi has been good but Morales has been better on a team with a better record.

      For that matter, Beckerman needs to be on the first team too, 2nd team at worst. He is the best CDM in the league with Alonso really being the only argument. Sarvas is not even close and is rated way too highly from the games I have seen of LAG this year. Beckerman does not have the elite athleticism to excel on the international level, but he is masterful in MLS and passes better than any other destroyer in the league.

      I am a clear RSL homer so there are my pitches. However, I do watch a lot of other games and have seen almost every team in the league play at least a few games. I am clearly biased but try to be objective. With that said, very good list Ives. Not too many complaints at all. RSL has so much depth that there really is no complaint about the best team in the league only having 3 spots of the 44.

  5. That Guy says:

    That awkward moment when the starting centerback of the USMNT isnt named as one of the best 8 in the domestic league. Yikes.

    • Tim says:

      Umm, he was, first team…. the guy no one ever talks about.

      • Steevens says:

        I believe “That Guy” must be referring to OG not Besler.

        • Tim says:

          Yeah I’m sure it was, always strikes me as strange that Besler is never mentioned, its always about OG.

          • Steevens says:

            I blame the LA media market, the long period of time that OG has been hyped as the long-term USMNT CB solution, and the long period of time that OG could not get a call-up to save his life (in spite of many soccer-media types feeling he earned it).

            • Josh says:

              I think just bigger markets in general help out. KC just isn’t as big of a market as LA for anyone to follow except actual MLS fans. And judging from the last few USMNT games, OG has shown reasons he may have taken so long to get his shot….

      • That Guy says:

        Talking about Gonzo. Good for Besler being in the Top 2

    • Eric says:

      At least the other one was.

    • Gnarls says:

      OG hasn’t been stellar this year, but look at LA’s stats with him vs. without him. He’s still massively impactful.

  6. Nelly says:

    Williams’ name has popped up here and’s best xi. Why isn’t anyone talking about him for the usmnt or allstar game?

    • D says:

      Maybe all-star game. But he lacks the discipline for USMNT at this point. Too many runs up the field without regard for his defensive responsibilities, and he’s not a great 1v1 defender. Okugo has bailed him out too often in that regard.

  7. Adam says:

    You like Chris Tierney way more than the Revs fans themselves do.

    • Nick4235 says:

      I’ve been saying it for a year now that Tierney is one of the most underrate players in MLS

  8. Andrew says:

    Wish there were more Red Bulls as a fan of the team, but I think you guys did a good job with the lineups.

    Question everyone is wondering: Where is Sherjil MacDonald or Leonard Pajoy?

  9. Chris says:

    The Union have 2 on 1st team. Jack Mac is legit. Surprised S Williams is on it. He has been responsible for a number of goals this year. Yeah he throws long and now again gets forward but we’ve been busted up on his flank this year too much.

    • Josh says:

      It’s often hard to get noticed as a fullback unless you’re involved in the offense. Just the nature of the beast. Williams’ offense helps his stock more than shaky defense

      • D says:

        I still believe Gaddis would be a better right back than Williams. Left back, Gaddis can only defend 1v1.

        Kind of Amazing the we (Union) have 2 defenders on the list with goal differential at 0 (and it’s not like 2011. We are scoring fairly well this year.) Okugo will be a great CB when he learns better positioning and to lead/organize his back line and middies better. Williams I feel will always want to be a forward.

  10. Travis says:

    I like Donovan as much as most but not 100% sure why hes on here. He has played in 11 games and has 3 goals and 4 assists I believe, those aren’t exactly blazing numbers. There are numerous other players around those totals not on it at all. Clearly he is getting back into form but overall his season hasn’t been that great to me.

  11. Nick4235 says:

    Is there a reason my comment that had absolutely no profanity or anything inappropriate in it got deleted. All I said was that I was happy to see Jose Goncalves and Diego F got a shout as well as Tierney and Shuttleworth…

    • Joamiq says:

      You probably typed out Diego’s full last name and the system probably decided it was hate speech. Typepad has the worst moderation system on the internet.

      • Nick4235 says:

        I did haha. That was probably it. For some reason it didn’t even appear with the “awaiting moderation” thing but now it’s up. Odd.

  12. John says:

    How is Teibert not in an XI? 2 goals and 6 assists in 10 games…

    • Ives Galarcep says:

      He’s been very good, but your answer is in your question. Just 10 games. Not sure who you think I should take out to include him. He was definitely considered for the fourth team, and would have been on our fifth team.

  13. Tim F. says:

    How many players on the 1st team and 2nd team will play in the All Star game? Who is not?

  14. Don says:

    What about midfielder Valerie? Critical to Timber success. Smooth operator.

    • petedx says:

      Diego Valeri has been good but as far as timbers go I’d say W. Johnson, Wallace, Rickets and probably Nagbe would be higher than him. I’m more surprised Nagbe is not on the third or fourth team than Valeri.

  15. Dennis says:

    SJ having a bad year, even Wondo and Beitashour did not get a sniff at the 4th tean.

  16. Ben says:

    Pajoy deserves to be in the first XI. His uncanny ability to be so consistently offsides has saved more goals than any keeper in the league.

  17. Brett says:

    It is surprising that no Sounders are on any team, but sadly none of them have performed well enough. Also it seems a little strange to see Sinovic on the list but looking at the first 19 games you could say he has been KC’s best defender.

  18. Stracho says:

    Message for me is that MLS is at least 4 teams deep in very good quality players. I’d take that 4th team midfield in a second. Plus many great players not mentioned. MLS bashers should take notice.

  19. kcee says:

    Also were is Robbie Rogers lol, stupid LA trading one of the best players this year for a dude who is likely to never even have an impact again.

    LA = All for the ATTENTION and $$$

  20. Smackey the Frog says:

    Are dives a category? Keane should be first team if they are.

  21. Um, yeah says:

    I can’t really argue with your first team choices.

    Nice to see the recognition of Klute and Sheanon Williams, who have been so good going forward this year.