With All-Star voting now closed and the fan’s XI set to announced on Wednesday, there are plenty of names who deserve to be in the lineup for the game against Bayern Munich in Portland on 6 August.
While that means a number of players will feel rightly aggrieved at being left off based on their performances so far this season, we have to pick a team with an emphasis on beating the Bundesliga champions, and the following is the best one to do it.
GK – Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
With Tim Howard and Brad Guzan around, Rimando has had to make do with being third-choice for the USA but he’s the clear cream of the crop when it comes to MLS shot-stoppers, proving crucial to RSL’s six consecutive postseason appearances.
The veteran was his reliable-self again for first-half of this season, before heading off to Brazil, and beats out the Red Bulls’ in-form Luis Robles, who’s made a league-leading 63 saves so far in 2014.
RB – DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders)
Suddenly one of the hottest young properties in football after his breakout World Cup campaign, the 21-year-old has been linked to a host of top European sides over the past week, so this pick is on condition that he’ll still be around when 6 August arrives.
If not, New England’s versatile Andrew Farrell would be the leading candidate to fill the role, followed closely by Vancouver’s Steven Beitashour and RSL’s Tony Beltran.
CB – Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City)
Like Yedlin, Besler has been widely tipped to make a move to Europe this summer but, as the best defender in MLS, it’s hard to leave him out while he’s still officially a member of Sporting KC.
Returning to the KC lineup over the weekend to put in a man of the match-calibre performance in the 2-1 win over the Montreal Impact, An impressive World Cup with the USA was a just reward for several excellent domestic seasons.
CB – Aurelien Collin (Sporting Kansas City)
While many would pick the LA Galaxy’s Omar Gonzalez, considering his wider profile in the States, Collin has been the better centre-back since entering the league in 2011, despite his noted disciplinary issues making him a considerably polarising figure.
There are plenty of others in contention based on this season’s form, including Seattle’s Chad Marshall, D.C. United’s Bobby Boswell, Colorado’s Drew Moor, FC Dallas’s Matt Hedges and Columbus’s Michael Parkhurst, but they face a tough task unseating the former two names.
LB – Seth Sinovic (Sporting Kansas City)
While Chris Klute is widely considered the league’s top left-back, the 24-year-old hasn’t pushed on from his excellent 2013, with a hamstring issue slowing his start to the season. Instead, the consistent and ever-reliable Sinovic gets the nod, to give KC three of the four defensive spots.
RM – Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers)
The Liberian-born playmaker may not have enjoyed a terribly productive season numbers-wise, having gone goalless so far, but he remains arguably the most technically-gifted player in MLS and a real handful for opposition defenders, leading the league in fouls suffered with 51 this season.
CM – Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake)
While the likes of Seattle’s Osvaldo Alonso, Vancouver’s Matias Laba and Columbus’s Wil Trapp all deserve a mention, Beckerman, at 32, continues to distinguish himself as the top holding midfielder in MLS, proving arguably the league’s most consistent player over the past decade.
CM – Michael Bradley (Toronto FC)
Played somewhat out of position by Jurgen Klinsmann, Bradley didn’t have the best of times at the World Cup but his performances prior with Toronto demonstrated all the qualities which made him a regular starter for one of Serie A’s top sides in 2012-13. As far as all-action midfielders go, there are few better in MLS, though Colorado’s Dillon Powers will be challenging him soon.
LM – Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
KC’s talisman during their run to MLS Cup victory in 2013, Zusi has already proved in his first 10 starts this season that he’s a far better player than his displays in Brazil would suggest.
While the pair of New England’s Lee Nguyen and Montreal’s Justin Mapp arguably deserve a place somewhere in the midfield, it’s hard to take either over the US international if we’re considering both form and pedigree.
AM/ST – Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders)
It’s tough to leave out playmakers Pedro Morales, Javier Morales and Diego Valeri, considering how influential they’ve been to their respective sides, but, for stability’s stake, it doesn’t feel right shoehorning them into the lineup anywhere else.
Dempsey was looking like the early MVP before the World Cup break, with eight goals in nine games, giving him the edge over Fabian Espindola and Thierry Henry, who’s been excellent in more of a creative role for the Red Bulls this season but will just have to settle for a super sub role.
ST – Jermain Defoe (Toronto FC)
There are a lot of strikers currently feasting on MLS defences, including the league’s leading-scorer Bradley Wright-Phillips, fellow Englishman Dom Dwyer and former Newcastle United man Obafemi Martins, who linked up excellently with Dempsey up front for Seattle earlier this season.
Chivas USA youngster Erick Torres has been on a tear recently and certainly should come close too, but Defoe is still every bit the goal poacher he was in the Premier League, two goals in the 4-2 win over Houston on the weekend confirming as much.