MLS released its season’s Best XI on Monday, and it’s the least American bunch in the history of the award.
Some have asked whether this be a concern. The short answer is: As long as you’re not a xenophobe, probably not.
There’s no question the league is better than ever, so in that sense no one should worry that only Matt Hedges and Sacha Kljestan earned nods in the league’s 3-4-3.
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Several times the league saw five Americans in its Best XI, and once it was four, but this year’s duo marks a new low.
MLS Best XI
GK – Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union / Jamaica)
D – Matt Hedges (FC Dallas / USA)
D – Jelle van Damme (LA Galaxy / Belgium)
D – Axel Sjoberg (Colorado Rapids / Sweden)
M – Mauro Diaz (FC Dallas / Argentina)
M – Giovani Dos Santos (LA Galaxy / Mexico)
M – Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls / USA)
M – Ignacio Piatti (Montreal Impact / Argentina)
F – Bradley Wright-Phillips (New York Red Bulls / England)
F – David Villa (New York City FC / Spain)
F – Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto FC / Italy)
Now of course the next question is, “Where do players 12-24 come from?” Let’s make a quick second XI (and include Nicolas Lodeiro despite his half-season status because, well, did you watch any MLS this year?):
GK – David Bingham (San Jose / USA)
D – Ronald Matarrita (New York City / Costa Rica)
D – Laurent Ciman (Montreal / Belgium)
D – Walker Zimmerman (FC Dallas / USA)
M – Osvaldo Alonso (Seattle / USA-Cuba)
M – Darlington Nagbe (Portland / USA)
M – Benny Feilhaber (Sporting KC / USA)
M – Diego Valeri (Portland / Argentina)
M – Nicolas Lodeiro (Seattle / Uruguay)
F – Dom Dwyer (Sporting KC / England)
F – Ola Kamara (Columbus / Norway)
A bit better, huh? And Dwyer could be American in under a year. Next up would probably be several Americans (Dax McCarty, Luis Robles, Michael Bradley, Jordan Morris, Drew Moor).
The idea of better players shouldn’t be about Americans racking up the top spots, rather U.S. players being improved by the level of competition.
Look at the Premier League’s Best XI, the PFA Team of the Year, which had a total of four Englishmen (five if you include English-born Jamaican back Wes Morgan). While some will argue for a cap on foreign players — which MLS has — you don’t mess with what makes it great.