MLS Team of the 2014 Season
Now that the 2014 Major League Soccer season has concluded, it is time to give out our end-of-the-season awards to the league's best players.
Over the next two weeks, we will take a look who the best players were at each position, and we will release our list of the top 50 players in the league.
Before we get to the positional breakdown, we will reveal our best XI from the 2014 season.
Continue reading on to see which 11 players were placed into our MLS Team of the 2014 season.
GK: Nick Rimando, Real Salt Lake
Picking the goalkeeper for this team was the hardest decision of them all.
Real Salt Lake's Nick Rimando barely edged out D.C. United's Bill Hamid due to some of the little things he did right.
In his 24 regular-season games, Rimando had a record of 13-4-7 to go along with a 1.04 goals-against average. Hamid put together a 1.13 goals-against average during 30 games in which he went 14-9-7.
However, those numbers didn't determine the small margin between the two top 'keepers. In the end, it was Rimando's four penalty denials that put him over the edge.
Rimando saved four of five penalties during the regular season, while Hamid let in all five he faced. With all of the other numbers being so close, the difference in stops against spot kicks was the deciding factor in determining the league's most well-rounder 'keeper.
DEF: Chad Marshall, Seattle
Chad Marshall was the most valuable defender in the league this season.
Marshall was a star at center-back in his first year with the Sounders, but it was a two-game spell without him on the pitch that proved just how valuable he was to Seattle in 2014.
In late July, Marshall was taken out of the lineup due to a back injury he suffered in a minor car accident. In the games he missed against LA and San Jose, the Sounders lost twice and were outscored 4-0.
The 30-year-old brought a calming presence to a back four that was in need of a veteran after a rough end to the 2013 season.
By reuniting with former manager Sigi Schmid, Marshall helped turn Seattle's back four into one of the best in MLS.
DEF: Bobby Boswell, D.C.
Another veteran defender who brought an established resume to a new team in 2014 was D.C.'s Bobby Boswell.
After six seasons with the Houston Dynamo, Boswell moved back to D.C. United to sure up the back four, which was one of the league's worst in 2013.
Boswell was supposed to be paired with another veteran in Jeff Parke, but due to Parke's injuries, rookie Steve Birnbaum was thrust into the other center-back role.
Some players would have had difficulties playing next to a rookie, but Boswell welcomed the change and he helped turn Birnbaum into one of the league's best rookies.
Boswell was also incredibly disciplined at a rough position, as he earned only two yellow cards in 34 games.
DEF: Matt Hedges, FC Dallas
Matt Hedges was one of many young Americans to assert his dominance in MLS this season.
The 24-year-old had a breakout year in Oscar Pareja's first season as manager of FC Dallas. Thanks to the play of the young center-back, the Hoops earned a spot in the Western Conference Semifinals before they fell to Seattle.
The 11th-overall pick in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft averaged 6.9 clearances and 3.2 interceptions in the middle of a back four that conceded 45 goals, which was the fourth-least in the competitive Western Conference.
Thanks to his terrific season, Hedges should earn a call-up to the United States men's national team for the annual January camp for MLS players.
MID: Diego Valeri, Portland
Few things went right for the Portland Timbers this season, but the play of Diego Valeri was a bright spot in an otherwise dreary year.
The Argentinian designated player was one of seven players who recorded over 10 goals and assists during the 2014 campaign.
Valeri's best goal of the season came in the 28th minute of Portland's 3-0 win over Vancouver on September 20, when he connected perfectly with a Jorge Villafana cross.
MID: Lee Nguyen, New England
The breakout star of the 2014 season was 28-year-old New England midfielder Lee Nguyen.
Nguyen burst onto the scene early in the season with five goals and one assist in the first three months. Although he hit a rough patch of form at the start of the summer, Nguyen came to life in July with a brace against Colorado to end the month.
Nguyen only got better as the season progressed, especially when the Revolution signed Jermaine Jones at the end of August. Alongside Jones, Nguyen scored nine goals in his final 10 games to hand New England the second seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Nguyen ended the regular season with 18 goals, and he added two more during his side's five postseason contests.
MID: Landon Donovan, LA
It still hasn't hit us that Landon Donovan has played the final game of his professional soccer career.
Donovan went out with a bang in 2014 by scoring 13 goals and earning 21 assists for the MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy.
His year didn't get off to a great start, as he was in bad form leading up to his cut from the United States World Cup roster. But that all changed once he was left off the 23-man squad for the World Cup.
In his first game back with the Galaxy, Donovan delivered a statement with two goals and one assist against the Philadelphia Union. During that game, Donovan became the all-time leading scorer in league history.
Donovan also went on to eclipse Steve Ralston for most assists in league history on October 4 against Toronto FC.
To cap off his final season, Donovan earned his sixth MLS Cup, and the Galaxy's fifth in franchise history, which is the most for any club in MLS.
MID: Thierry Henry, New York
Donovan was not the only legend of the game to say goodbye to MLS in 2014, as Thierry Henry did the same with the New York Red Bulls.
For the fourth consecutive season, the former Arsenal and Barcelona player scored 10 goals for the Red Bulls. To go along with that total, Henry recorded 14 assists, which was his highest total in five MLS seasons.
Throughout the entire season, Henry brought true class to the pitch by giving us plenty of moments to savor before he left the American stage for good.
Perhaps the most special moment of the season came at the MLS All-Star Game, when Henry left the pitch to a standing ovation before Donovan replaced him.
FW: Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York
Without Henry, Bradley Wright-Phillips may not have a spot on this list.
The English forward benefited from the terrific playmaking skills of Henry on his way to tying the single-season scoring record of 27 goals.
During his record-tying campaign, Wright-Phillips scored three hat-tricks and three braces in 32 games. The 29-year-old kept his hot streak in front of goal going in the postseason, as he scored four goals in four games for the Red Bulls.
After the Red Bulls were eliminated from the playoffs, they wasted no time in locking down Wright-Phillips for the future, as he was signed as a designated player on December 3.
FW: Obafemi Martins, Seattle
After scoring just eight goals during his first season in Seattle, Obafemi Martins formed a deadly forward partnership with Clint Dempsey on the way to winning the Supporters' Shield.
During the stretch run of the regular season, Martins scored two goals in four of the last five games in which he found the back of the net.
Despite his strong regular season, Martins and the Sounders were unable to get past the LA Galaxy in the Western Conference Final.
FW: Robbie Keane, LA
Robbie Keane was the best player in MLS all season long.
The winner of the Most Valuable Player award, and scorer of the game-winning goal in the MLS Cup Final, was at his best during all 34 games in which he played during the 2014 season.
Keane contributed 19 goals and 14 assists in the regular season, but it was his 21st strike of the year that was the most meaningful. Keane's second goal of the postseason came in the 111th minute of the MLS Cup Final, which the Galaxy won 2-1 over New England.
In three of his four seasons with the Galaxy, Keane has ended the season by lifting MLS Cup.
GK: Bill Hamid (D.C.)
DEF: Omar Gonzalez (LA)
DEF: Nat Borchers (Real Salt Lake)
MID: Javier Morales (Real Salt Lake)
MID: Matias Laba (Vancouver)
MID: Osvaldo Alonso (Seattle)
FW: Dom Dwyer (Sporting Kansas City)
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