The MLS All-Star Team Analysed

With the 2017 MLS All-Star finalised, it’s time to analyse each of the players that were jointly chosen via four methods: The fans voted on ten of a fan XI, FIFA 17 held a “More Than A Vote” poll to determine the last player of the fan XI, MLS All-Star Team coach Veljko Paunovic picked eleven players, and MLS Commissioner Don Garber picked two players for a combined 24-man team. This team will play in a one-off game against Real Madrid as a promotional friendly for the MLS on August 2, 2017. I will analyse each player based on their performance this season in the order they were picked: Fan XI, Coach XI, Commissioner’s picks.

Fan XI

GK – Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids)

Tim Howard makes it into the All-Star team despite having a relatively port start to the season. Appearing in only thirteen of the Rapid’s 18 games, Howard has 2 clean sheets and has allowed 21 goals while making 39 saves. It is likely due to his performance with the US Men’s National Team that earned him the popular vote. This is his first MLS All-Star appearance.

DF – Demarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo)

Another popularity pick, Demarcus Beasley has featured in 15 of the Dynamo’s 20 games played. Beasley has played an instrumental part in all four of the Dynamo’s clean sheets and to their fight for the West. A veteran of the USMNT, it is clear that he is still a fan favourite in the MLS. This is his second MLS All-Star appearance.

DF – Greg Garza (Atlanta United)

Atlanta United have made an unprecedented start to their debut season, sitting in fourth place in the East and still in the hunt for the Supporter’s Shield. Greg Garza has been a huge help to the campaign, playing in all but one out of 20 games. Atlanta have earned four clean sheets with the aid of Garza this season, giving even more reason for him to have earned this vote. This is his first MLS All-Star appearance.

DF – Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

Despite playing as an attacking midfielder for SKC previously, Graham Zusi has made a position switch not too dissimilar to that of Liverpool’s James Milner. Now playing as a fullback, Zusi has very-much made the position his own and has aided his team to currently sit top of the West, appearing in 16 of 20 games. With this display of versatility, it is no surprise he was picked by the fans. This is his fifth MLS All-Star appearance.

MF – Miguel Almiron (Atlanta United)

A natural number ten, Miguel Almiron has had a hand in 14 of Atlanta’s 39 goals this season. He is very thoughtful on the ball and has a lethal touch when given the space. An important piece in Atlanta’s campaign thus far, his being picked was anything but surprising. This is his first MLS All-Star appearance.

MF – Michael Bradley (Toronto FC)

Captain America himself, Michael Bradley has been a stalwart of Toronto’s midfield as they have cruised to the top of the East and lead the race for the Supporter’s Shield. Being the captain of the USMNT has certainly helped his popularity, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him captain this All-Star team. This is his third MLS All-Star appearance.

MF – Kaka (Orlando City)

Appearing in only thirteen out of 20 games this season for Orlando, Kaka has had a few impactful performances. Having a hand in six of Orland’s 22 goals, Kaka’s season hasn’t been his best, but they have obviously been good enough for the MLS’ top-paid player to be voted into the team. This is his third MLS All-Star appearance.

MF – Bastian Schweinsteiger (Chicago Fire)

Fresh from Manchester United, Bastian Schweinsteiger has been making waves in Chicago, placing his mark on the Fire’s campaign for the east. Appearing in 15 of the 19 games played thus far, he has had his hand in 3 goals and allows the Fire’s midfield to move more fluidly towards top goal-scorer Nemanja Nikolic. With an incredible debut season for such a high-profile player, it is no wonder he has made the fan’s cut for the team. This is his first MLS All-Star appearance.

FW – Nemanja Nikolic (Chicago Fire)

The MLS leading goal-scorer Nemanja Nikolic was a shoe-in for the All-Star team. Currently sitting on 16 goals and two assists, Nikolic is responsible for or has had a hand in half of the Fire’s goals this season. An out-and-out striker, he is capable of finding the net from just about anywhere in the final third. A very easy choice for the fans voting on the team. This is his first MLS All-Star appearance.

FW – David Villa (New York City FC)

David Villa has taken to his more advanced role with NYFC very well, and this season looks set to perform better than in his previous two seasons with the club. With his hand in 17 goals so far this season, his is close to his previous season records of 27 and 23 goals in the 16/17 and 15/16 seasons respectively. This is his second MLS All-Star appearance.

FW – Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto FC)

Sebastian Giovinco is in the midst of his third season in the MLS with Toronto, and he has been scoring just as consistently as he did in his previous two seasons. With a hand in just over 1/3rd of Toronto’s goals this season, despite only playing in 15 out of 20 games, he has proven that he is a constant threat on the pitch. A fan favourite in Toronto, and in the rest of the MLS, it is no surprise that he was picked via FIFA 17’s More Than A Vote poll. This is his third MLS All-Star appearance.

Coach XI

GK – Stefan Frei (Seattle Sounders)

Stefan Frei comes in as the seemingly more qualified of the two keepers in the team based on this season’s performance. Frei has been the shot-stopper in 19 of the Sounders 20 games, and has helped them stay in the hunt for the East and in the playoff hunt. It is likely that despite Howard’s “celebrity” status, Frei will be the starting keeper for the All-Star game. This is his first MLS All-Star appearance.

DF – Hernan Grana (FC Dallas)

A vital part of the FC Dallas team, Hernan Grana has played in 15 out of 18 games this season in the battle for the West. He is excellent at retaking possession in defence and recycling possession up to the league’s assist-leader Michael Barrios. He is a solid pick for any team, and it is no surprise that he was on Paunovic’s list for the team. This is his first MLS All-Star appearance.

DF – Matt Hedges (FC Dallas)

Another important piece of FC Dallas’ defence, Matt Hedges is also the captain of the team and has led the Dallas defence to allowing the second-least amount of goals in the MLS. He will fit in with the other leaders in this team very nicely. This is his first MLS All-Star appearance.

DF – Johan Kappelhof (Chicago Fire)

Despite being a part of the Chicago Fire backline to jointly allow the most goals in the MLS last season, Johan Kappelhof has improved his performances this season to aid the Fire to allowing the third least amount of goals so far this season. With solid performances all season long, he makes a good choice for the backline. This is his first MLS All-Star appearance.

DF – Jelle Van Damme (LA Galaxy)

Part of the defence that has allowed such a disappointing performance for the Galaxy, Jelle Van Damme has found his way on to the All-Star team perhaps in order to fill the void at left-back. While probably not the best man in the league at that position, he can certainly do the job for Paunovic. This is his second MLS All-Star appearance.

DF – Michael Parkhurst (Atlanta United)

Captain of Atlanta United, Michael Parkhurst has led the team to a remarkable fourth most points in the MLS during this first campaign for the team. He is one of only three players on Atlanta United to have featured in every game this season, and is likely to help lead the defensive line for the MLS All-Star team. This is his second MLS All-Star appearance.

MF – Giovani dos Santos (LA Galaxy)

Giovani dos Santos has been just another player in this generally disappointing season for the LA Galaxy. While he has scored the second most goals this season, he has been largely overshadowed by the standout performance of new-man Romain Alessandrini, who I think should have been the pick instead of dos Santos. Regardless, dos Santos should prove to be a useful asset in attack behind the strikers. This is his second MLS All-Star appearance.

MF – Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire)

Dax McCarty has been a steadfast anchor for a roaring Chicago Fire team this season. After suffering the ignominy of having the worst record in the MLS last season, the Fire needed to strengthen all areas, and McCarty has proven to be that man in the midfield partnering with Bastian Schweinsteiger to put the Fire in the running for the Supporter’s Shield. This is his second MLS All-Star appearance.

MF – Ignacio Piatti (Montreal Impact)

Ignacio Piatti is a bright light on Montreal’s otherwise average season so far, having had a hand in 1/3rd of the teams goals this season. He leads the team in scoring, and has been Montreal’s most consistent performer so far this season. This is his second MLS All-Star appearance.

MF – Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers)

With his hand in 15 of the Timber’s 35 goals this season, Diego Valeri is continuing to prove his capability as a number 8. With an excellent eye for a pass, a lethal shot from distance, and defensive capabilities to back it up, he will fit into any midfield partnership. This is his second MLS All-Star appearance.

FW – Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC)

Accounting for another 1/3rd of Toronto’s goals this season, Jozy Altidore fits into an incredible partnership with Sebastian Giovinco, making his pick even more sensible. With the style of play that the other forwards in the team possess, it is clear that Paunovic needed a strong forward for challenging Real Madrid’s back line, and Altidore seems like just the man for the job, having played against several Real Madrid players during international games for the USMNT. This is his second MLS All-Star appearance.

Commissioner’s Picks

MF – Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas)

A pivotal piece of the FC Dallas midfield, Kellyn Acosta has adopted a much more offensive attitude this season, while still fulfilling his defensive duties. His free-kicks especially have grown more lethal, and his is starting to excel in his box-to-box role in the midfield this season. He will cover for a lot of the lost pace in the ageing midfield of the team, and is starting to become a star in the MLS allowing the Commissioner an easy choice in picking him. This is his second MLS All-Star appearance.

FW – Dom Dwyer (Sporting Kansas City)

Dom Dwyer has had a recent breakthrough in Bruce Arena’s USMNT during the CONCACAF Gold Cup, and it is likely that more-so than his average performance this season for Sporting Kansas City that caused the Commissioner to pick him for the team. This is his second MLS All-Star appearance.

MLS teams with players featured:
Chicago Fire – 4
Atlanta United – 3
FC Dallas – 3
Toronto FC – 3
Sporting Kansas City – 2
LA Galaxy – 2
Houston Dynamo – 1
Seattle Sounders – 1
Portland Timbers – 1
Montreal Impact – 1
Orlando City – 1
Colorado Rapids – 1
New York City FC – 1

It is an overall solid team that will certainly be able to compete against Real Madrid. There are some players that I might have picked over those featured here, but most of the team deserves their place. The game on August 2nd will likely be an enjoyable viewing experience for anyone who chooses to watch.

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