MLS Best IX Announced

NEW YORK (Monday, Nov. 26, 2012) – MLS Commissioner Don Garber today announced the 2012 Best XI during his annual State of the League teleconference call. The Best XI recognizes the League’s top 11 players at each position on the field.

This year MLS players, club leadership, and media members voted one goalkeeper, three defenders, four midfielders and three forwards to the Best XI, listed below in alphabetical order within each position:

Goalkeeper – Jimmy Nielsen (Sporting Kansas City)

Defender – Victor Bernardez (San Jose Earthquakes)

Defender – Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City)

Defender – Aurelien Collin (Sporting Kansas City)

Midfielder – Osvaldo Alonso (Seattle Sounders FC)

Midfielder – Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy)

Midfielder – Chris Pontius (D.C. United)

Midfielder – Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

Forward – Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls)

Forward – Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy)

Forward – Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

After finishing the regular season atop the Eastern Conference, Sporting Kansas City lead all teams with four players named to the Best XI. The San Jose Earthquakes, the 2012 Supporters’ Shield winners for best regular season record and LA Galaxy, the reigning MLS Cup Champions, each have two players named, while three other teams each have one player.

Three players have previously been named to the MLS Best XI: Donovan, Henry and Wondolowski. Eight players are first-time Best XI: Alonso, Bernardez, Besler, Collin, Keane, Nielsen, Pontius and Zusi.

Donovan has been named to his fifth consecutive Best XI selection and sixth overall, tying Dwayne De Rosario for the most of any player in MLS history.

Six members of the Best XI were named to the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game First XI and eight were named finalists for other 2012 postseason awards.

2012 MLS Best XI:

Jimmy Nielsen                    Goalkeeper          Sporting Kansas City                        Nationality: Denmark        Born: August 6, 1977

A finalist for the Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year, Nielsen led his team to the second best regular season record (18-7-9) in 2012, playing every minute of all 34 regular season games. Nielsen led the League in Goalkeeper Wins (18) and Shutouts (15), and was second in Goals Against Average with 0.79. This is Nielsen’s first Best XI selection.

Victor Bernardez                Defender              San Jose Earthquakes                     Nationality: Honduras       Born: May 24, 1982

A finalist for MLS Defender of the Year and Newcomer of the Year, Bernardez has emerged as one of the top center backs in MLS.

The hulking center back helped lead the Earthquakes to the League’s best record (19-6-9), contributing two goals and one assist. The Honduran international joined the Earthquakes after three years with Belgian Pro League giant RSC Anderlecht. This is his first MLS Best XI selection.

Matt Besler                          Defender              Sporting Kansas City                        Nationality: USA                 Born: February, 11, 1987

This year’s MLS Defender of the Year, Besler has established himself as one of the dominant central defenders in the League. While leading the defensive unit that registered the best regular season goals-against average (0.79) in MLS this season, Besler also contributed two assists. This is his first MLS Best XI selection.

Aurelien Collin                     Defender              Sporting Kansas City                        Nationality: France            Born: March 8, 1986

A tenacious central defender, Collin has anchored Sporting’s defense this season, while scoring three goals and one assist. A finalist for MLS Defender of the Year, he started 28 and played in 29 games this season for Kansas City. This is his first MLS Best XI selection.

Osvaldo Alonso                  Midfielder             Seattle Sounders FC                         Nationality: Cuba             Born: November 11, 1985

Appearing in 30 games this season, Alonso dominated the central midfield for Seattle and aided the Sounders in earning their fourth consecutive MLS Cup Playoffs berth. The hard-working midfielder helped the Sounders defense hold the second lowest Goals Against Average in the league at 0.97, while offensively contributing one goal and two assists. This is his first MLS Best XI selection.

Landon Donovan                Midfielder             LA Galaxy                                             Nationality: USA                 Born: March 4, 1982

Donovan led the League in Game-winning Assists this year with five, and was second in the League with 14 assists. This year he scored nine goals in 26 games for the Galaxy. In 2011, Donovan captained the Galaxy to its third MLS Cup title – scoring the final’s only goal – and the Supporters’ Shield for the second straight season.

Chris Pontius                      Midfielder             D.C. United                                           Nationality: USA                 Born: May 12, 1987

Pontius led D.C. United in goals this year with a career-high 12 goals, while adding four assists. A finalist for the Comeback Player of the Year award, he returned from a broken leg at the end of 2011 and started 26 of the 31 matches he played this season. His play this season helped propel D.C. into the playoffs for the first time since 2007. This is his first MLS Best XI selection.

Graham Zusi                        Midfielder             Sporting Kansas City                        Nationality: USA                 Born: August 18, 1986

A finalist for the 2012 Volkswagen MLS MVP, Zusi had a breakout season for Sporting Kansas City. He led the League in assists this season with 15, while also scoring five goals. The 23rd overall pick in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft, he started 31 of the 32 regular season games he played this year. Earlier this year, Zusi earned his first cap with the U.S. men’s national team, and quickly established himself as a regular, appearing in six matches in 2012. This is his first MLS Best XI selection.

Thierry Henry                      Forward               New York Red Bulls                         Nationality: France            Born: August 17, 1977

The French World Cup champion continued to excel in his second full season with the New York Red Bulls. He scored 15 goals and added a team-high 12 assists in 25 games. Henry has 123 caps for France, and is his national team’s all-time leading scorer with 51 goals. This is his second consecutive MLS Best XI selection.

Robbie Keane                     Forward                                LA Galaxy                                             Nationality: Ireland             Born: July 8, 1980

In his first full season with the Galaxy, Keane led the Galaxy attack with 16 goals, while adding nine assists in 28 games played. The talented forward is Ireland’s all-time leader in goals and their current captain. This is his first MLS Best XI selection.

Chris Wondolowski           Forward                                San Jose Earthquakes                     Nationality: USA                 Born: January 28, 1983

The winner of the 2012 Budweiser Golden Boot award, Wondolowski led the League in scoring with 27 goals, tying the all-time single season record. He is the only player in MLS history to score the most regular season goals in three consecutive seasons. A finalist for the 2012 Volkswagen MLS MVP, Wondolowski tallied seven assists while helping the Earthquakes win the 2012 Supporters’ Shield. This is his third consecutive MLS Best XI selection.