MLS

Picking an MLS Best XI for the 2014 Season

Mar 15, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Toronto FC midfielder Michael Bradley (4) during pre game warmups prior to the game against the Seattle Sounders FC at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
Joe TanseyFeatured ColumnistMarch 20, 2014

The 2014 Major League Soccer season is still young, but that will not stop us from predicting who will be the best players at the end of the season. 

Based off of the first two weeks of play, and performances in recent years, we chose the 11 best candidates for an MLS best 11. 

Continue reading below for a look at the selections for the team. 

 

Goalkeeper: Nick Rimando

When Nick Rimando delivered a stellar nine-save showing against LA in Week 1, he added to his career highlight reel that is chock-full of dramatic saves, especially penalty stops. 

KANSAS CITY, KS - DECEMBER 7:  Nick Rimando #18 of Real Salt Lake jumps behind Nat Borchers #6 as he catches the ball on a corner kick in the in the MLS Cup Final against the Sporting Kansas City at Sporting Park on December 7, 2013 in Kansas City, Kansas
Ed Zurga/Getty Images

The third-choice United States keeper has already solidified his spot on the plane to Brazil with 16 saves over two weeks of play. 

If Rimando continues his strong play in net, he will once again be heading into the playoffs with Real Salt Lake. 

 

Defenders: Kofi Sarkodie, Matt Besler, Michael Parkhurst, Corey Ashe

After two weeks of play, it is hard not to pick the entire Houston back four, but we all know that their play will fade off eventually.

While the Dynamo defense will take some lumps throughout the season, it will still feature two full-backs who don't receive enough respect. 

Kofi Sarkodie and Corey Ashe not only play their positions well on defense, but they are contributors to the attack on occasion as well.

When Sarkodie is not busy making goal-line clearances, he is denying opposing wingers of scoring opportunities on the wing. 

It is realistic to say that both players could receive call-ups to the United States men's national team in the next year if their play continues.

Matt Besler and Michael Parkhurst are already contributors to the national team, and both of them should have productive MLS campaigns in 2014.

Colin E. Braley/Associated Press

We know what to expect out of Besler, who was named captain of Sporting Kansas City before the season, but Parkhurst at a new position is somewhat of an unknown. 

Parkhurst has made the shift to centre-back at the request of Columbus manager Gregg Berhalter, and he hasn't skipped a beat so far at his new spot on the pitch. 

 

Defensive Midfield: Michael Bradley, Osvaldo Alonso

There are few players better at the defensive midfield position than Michael Bradley and Osvaldo Alonso. 

Bradley is the best American player out there at the moment, while Alonso has provided quality play in front of the back four in Seattle for quite some time. 

Mar 15, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Sounders FC midfielder Osvaldo Alonso (6) speaks with Toronto FC midfielder Michael Bradley (4) following a foul during the second half at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Both players have high standards of play and are able to link up with the attack well and defend when called upon. 

It would not be a shocker if the pair line up alongside each other in the MLS All-Star Game in Portland on August 6 against Bayern Munich, or further down the road for the United States. 

 

Attacking Midfield: Federico Higuain, Mauro Rosales, Gaston Fernandez

Picking only three creative attacking midfielders from the vast pool of MLS players is a tough decision, but we came up with three out-of-the-box options. 

Mar 8, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Columbus Crew forward Federico Higuain (10) celebrates after scoring a goal D.C. United at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial. Mandatory Credit: Paul Frederiksen-USA TODAY Sports
Paul Frederiksen-USA TODAY Sport

Federico Higuain has provided nothing but class for the Crew since his arrival in Ohio two years ago, and he is likely to keep that up in 2014. 

Mauro Rosales has been given a new lease on his MLS career at Chivas USA, and he has turned a lackluster attack from 2013 into one that is actually functional and capable of scaring a few defenses in 2014. 

Mar 16, 2014; Carson, CA, USA; Chivas USA midfielder Mauro Rosales (7) reacts at the end of the game against the Vancouver Whitecaps at StubHub Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Gaston Fernandez is a new addition to the Portland midfield, and he is quite the intriguing prospect given the success of another Argentinian who arrived in the Rose City in 2013, Diego Valeri

The 30-year-old veteran of the South American game has scored two second-half equalizers in two games for the Timbers already, and one has to think the best is yet to come from Fernandez.

 

Forward: Chris Wondolowski

There are close to 10 viable candidates for this position, but Chris Wondolowski is the one player who stands out the most right now. 

Mar 11, 2014; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Jose Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski (8) takes a shot on goal against Toluca FC during the second half at Buck Shaw Stadium. The San Jose Earthquakes and Toluca FC tied 1-1. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-US
Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Wondo had a dream season in 2012 with 27 league goals, and with a broken foot in 2013, he netted eight goals for the United States and 11 for San Jose. 

With a healthy Wondolowski out on the pitch for San Jose and a potential World Cup roster spot on the line, expect one of the most experienced players in the league to thrive once again in 2014.

 

Joe Tansey covers MLS for Bleacher Report, follow him on Twitter, @JTansey90.

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