As we head towards the MLS Is Back Tournament, HITC Sport take a look at some Major League Soccer legends since the league’s inception in 1996. Here are our picks for the best XI in MLS history.

Goalkeeper: Nick Rimando

Former LA Galaxy, Kansas City Wizards and FC Dallas stopper Kevin Hartman is a strong contender for the best goalkeeper MLS has ever seen. However, Nick Rimando takes the gloves in our XI.

Rimando, who played between 2000 and 2019, holds the record for the most minutes played in MLS history. The Real Salt Lake legend also has the record for the most clean-sheets; with 155 shut-outs from 496 regular season matches.

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Defenders: Jeff Agoos, Eddie Pope, Chad Marshall

Jeff Agoos and Eddie Pope were members of D.C. United’s title winning team from the league’s inaugural season in 1996. Between them, Agoos and Pope made more than 500 MLS appearances and over 200 international games for the U.S. National Team.

Together, the duo won MLS Cup in 1996, 1997 and 1999, in addition to winning the CONCACAF Champions League in 1998. Agoos won two further MLS Cups with the San Jose Earthquakes (2001, 2003) and is a true MLS great. Probably the captain of our best XI in MLS history.

During his 16-year MLS career, Chad Marshall played more than 400 times for Columbus Crew and Seattle Sounders. Like Agoos and Pope, Marshall is a three-time MLS Cup champion. The U.S. international scored the winning goal for Columbus in the 2008 MLS Cup final, before helping Seattle to the 2016 and 2019 titles.

Midfielders: David Beckham, Dwyane De Rosario, Marco Etcheverry, Landon Donovan

Possibly an unpopular pick, but David Beckham makes our all-time MLS best XI due to his transformational role in the progress of the league (and his two MLS Cup triumphs). The pre-Beckham MLS was a far different proposition compared to the league that he left in 2012.

“The signing of David probably kept MLS around forever.”

Bruce Arena, former LA Galaxy Head Coach (The Los Angeles Times)

Before he moved Stateside in 2007, MLS faced financial difficulties, only had 13 teams, and was unable to boast the calibre of stars that have graced the league in recent years. Without Beckham, we possibly do not see Thierry Henry at the Red Bulls, no Sebastian Giovinco at Toronto, no David Villa at NYCFC, and maybe no Atlanta United and LAFC whatsoever.

During his long stint in MLS, Dwayne De Rosario played for the San Jose Earthquakes, the Houston Dynamo, Toronto FC, the New York Red Bulls and D.C United. The legendary Canadian won four MLS Cups in seven years, with two different teams (San Jose and Houston) and was a scorer of wonderful goals.

Marco Etcheverry was a vital part of D.C. United’s success in the early years of Major League Soccer. The Bolivian superstar played for D.C. from 1996 to 2003 and made 101 assists in 191 games. Like Pope and Agoos, Etcheverry won MLS Cup in 1996, 1997 and 1999 – in addition to the 1998 CONCACAF Champions League victory.

Landon Donovan is synonymous with U.S. Soccer. Donovan has the most assists in MLS history (136) and is the second highest goal scorer (145). For the USMNT, Donovan holds the record for the highest number of assists (58), goals (57, joint with Clint Dempsey), and is the second highest capped player with 157 appearances. Donovan is a six time MLS Cup champion and easily walks into the best XI in MLS history.

Forwards: Sebastian Giovinco, Chris Wondolowski, Jaime Moreno

When Sebastian Giovinco left Juventus to sign for Toronto FC in 2015 it was a huge moment for Major League Soccer. Never before had a player in his prime and with such talent left a European giant to join MLS. Beckham was 32 when he left Real Madrid (a move which undeniably involved more than just soccer), whereas Giovinco was about to turn 28.

The Italian forward was majestic throughout his four years in MLS, scoring 83 goals in 142 games. Giovinco led TFC to the 2017 MLS Cup, was named league MVP in 2015 and broke numerous goals and assists records.

As goal records go, the number one scorer in MLS history is league legend Chris Wondolowski. The San Jose Earthquakes striker currently has 162 goals in 247 games and is still going strong at the age of 37. ‘Wondo’ made his debut in 2005 and won two MLS Cups with Houston and two Supporters’ Shields with San Jose.

Our final pick is another D.C. United hero, Bolivian international Jaime Moreno. The forward won everything there was to play for whilst with D.C. Four MLS Cups, the CONCACAF Champions Cup, the Copa Interamericana, four Supporters’ Shields and two U.S. Open Cups.

Noticeable considerations…

Readers may have many other candidates that could have made our best XI in MLS history. Other considerations included: Carlos Valderrama, Diego Valeri, Josef Martinez, Carlos Vela, Robbie Keane, Mauricio Cienfiegos, Steve Ralston, and Ike Opara.

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