As part of our ongoing package previewing start of Major League Soccer’s 18th season, here are the best and brightest MLS men at their positions as we head into Saturday’s first kick.
GK = Sporting Kansas City’s Jimmy Nielsen
Why we like him: The best MLS blend of talent and experience, although Seattle’s Michael Gspurning or Real Salt Lake’s Nick Rimando could easily fill this spot. And who knows … the LA Galaxy’s Carlo Cudicini, just in from his days at Tottenham, could be the wild card here.
RB = Vancouver’s Lee Young-Pyo
CB = LA Galaxy’s Omar Gonzalez
CB = San Jose’s Victor Bernardez
LB = New York Red Bulls’ Heath Pearce
Why we like them: Who dares come through the middle against these two big ol’ hosses? Bernardez and Gonzalez would be the baddest, most bang-‘em up central combo around these parts since Alexi Lalas and Marcelo Balboa were knockin’ heads on the 1994 U.S. World Cup side. (And our MLS pair would come equipped with greater skill, too.) As for Pearce at left back, I’ll repeat what I said yesterday in our all-Yank version of this team: Yes, he has been and may still line up centrally. But Pearce has 35 full U.S. national team appearances … all at left back. That’s his best spot.
Defensive MF = Seattle’s Osvaldo Alonso
RMF = Houston Dynamo’s Oscar Boniek Garcia
LMF = D.C. United’s Dwayne De Rosario
Attacking MF = Columbus Crew’s Federico Higuain
Why we like them: Yes, I cheated a little. De Rosario will play centrally this year for D.C. United, somewhere, either as a second forward or as an attacking midfielder. But he has played along the left before in MLS. So there. This arrangement serves to get the best players “on the field.”
Look at it for a second … picture it on the field … and don’t be embarrassed if you drool just a little.
FW = New York Red Bulls’ Thierry Henry
FW = LA Galaxy’s Robbie Keane (pictured)
Why we like them: There are a lot of years (not to mention a lot of decoration … a FIFA World Cup crown, Champions League medals, too many World Cup qualifiers to remember, etc.) with these two. Let’s go with, “Old enough to know … but still young enough to do.” Because these two were absolutely getting the business done at the end of last year, especially so with Keane and the Galaxy.