Star-Spangled Major League Soccer XI
The MLS has been steadily adding a roster of big-name players to complement its home-grown base in recent years.
While many of these stars are in the twilight of their careers, we reckon this, albeit attacking, MLS XI would give many Premier League teams a run for their money.
With Julio Cesar returning to QPR after his brief loan spell at Toronto FC, Portland Timbers keeper Donovan Ricketts takes the goalkeeping berth. The Jamaican international was in the MLS Team of the Year last season and his career Goals Against Average of 1.11 is bettered only by the now retired Kasey Keller and Jimmy Nielsen.
One of the league’s home-grown designated players, the imposing centre-back has been an almost ever-present in the MLS Team of the Year in recent seasons. The LA Galaxy star was a key player during USA’s recent World Cup adventure but a move to Europe has been tempered by a string of injury niggles.
Besler was an ever-present for Team USA in Brazil and was immediately linked with a host of English sides including Sunderland and Fulham. It was possibly their interest that inspired him to extend his contract with the reigning MLS champions Sporting Kansas City.
So impressive was the Seattle Sounders right-back’s performances at the World Cup, after stepping in for the equally imposing Fabian Johnson, that he was immediately linked with a number of top European clubs. A transfer to AS Roma seems imminent, and he’ll be a colossal loss to Sounders’ rearguard.
While undoubtedly past his best, the former Ballon d’Or winner’s signature represented quite a coup for new franchise Orlando City. He’s been immediately loaned out to Sao Paulo until the start of the 2015 MLS season in January but will be a major draw for the Brazilian-owned Florida club next season.
Lampard’s signing for New York City this week sparked some controversy after his drunken antics in front of US tourists the day after 9/11 were resurrected. Once the furore had died down the veteran midfielder, who bagged eight goals in 40 appearances last season for Chelsea, will be a valuable asset to the new club during his two-year contract.
It was a surprise when Bradley returned to the MLS last season from Roma, after a highly successful European club career. Still only 26, the USA midfielder signed for Toronto FC as one of their designated players for an MLS record fee of $10 million.
The dread-locked Real Salt Lake midfielder, 32, also impressed at the World Cup and if it weren’t for his age a move to Europe would be on the cards. The veteran has remained in the MLS for his entire career and is now fifth on the all-time minutes played list.
The former Everton midfielder made the MLS Team of the Year last season after a string of impressive performances for New York Red Bulls. One of the franchise’s designated players, along with Thierry Henry, the Australian international looks set to rejoin former club Millwall on loan during the American off-season.
The MLS has a preponderance of top-class strikers at the moment– Keane, David Villa, Marco di Vaio, Thierry Henry, Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, Jermain Defoe, Mike Magee and Obefami Martins, to name but a few – so it’s nigh on impossible to choose a front two. However, Keane has outshone many illustrious counterparts, making the MLS Team of the Year for the past two seasons and he’s already notched ten goals in 16 appearances this term.
Villa’s inclusion is as much to do with his potential to explode on the MLS stage than the likes of Henry and Magee’s poor goals tallies this season compared to previous campaigns. The New York City signing is off to sister club Melbourne City to maintain his fitness before the 2015 MLS season kicks off. Still only 32, Spain’s all-time top scorer has plenty of years left to offer to American soccer.