MLS All-Star Game: Our MLS bloggers pick their own team, it looks a lot like the real one
Well, this didn't turn out to be quite as interesting as we originally thought. When I first came up with the idea to poll the SB Nation MLS bloggers about who they felt should be in Wednesday's All-Star Game, I was thinking it would probably differ by a sizable margin for the team that was actually picked. Turns out, there were only a few differences, which suggests the team MLS head coach Peter Vermes picked with a bit of an assist from fans and commissioner Don Garber wasn't all that crazy.
First a little bit about how we conducted our ballot: Each blogger was invited to fill out a preferred formation as well as pick a starting XI based on that formation. We ended up with 22 bloggers casting votes. From that, we took the 18 players who appeared on the most ballots to form our roster. The official MLS roster actually ended up having 22 players, with two of them inactive due to injury. We didn't bother naming injury replacements.
Nick Rimando (16 ballots): This was by far the most popular pick among our bloggers and it really should be no surprise. The RSL goalkeeper currently has the best save percentage (79), as well as the best goals against average (.82) among players with at least three starts. In 17 games, he also has six shutouts. To put that in perspective, RSL has allowed 10 goals in the five games he's missed and has just one shutout in those games.
Shuttleworth (3 ballots): For all the hype thrown around various young American goalkeepers, the Revolution man is having the best season. The 25-year-old is tied for the league lead with nine shutouts to go along with saving 74 percent of the shots he's faced and a 1.00 GAA. Both are among the league leaders.
Omar Gonzalez (14 ballots): I'll be honest, I was a bit surprised to see him appearing on so many ballots because this seems like a bit of a down year for him. But reputation goes a long way, especially among defenders and it's hard not to like him.
Matt Besler (11 ballots): It looks like our starting center backs will be the same as the U.S. national team and it's hard to argue with the Sporting KC player's addition. National team duty has limited him to just 15 games, but Kansas City has five shutouts when he's played.
Goncalves (11 ballots): This may have been the player we felt received the biggest snub, as fully half of our bloggers had him on their team. It's hard to argue against Goncalves being the biggest influence on what has to be the most improved defense in the league.
Tony Beltran (11 votes): The RSL right back has quietly become the best player at his position, something that is now coming to light with his All-Star selection as well as his being named to the U.S. national team. At 25, he's still got some potential growing to do, too.
Corey Ashe (9 votes): If you asked 10 people to name the best left back in MLS, you might come up with 10 blank stares. But even if it's by default, Ashe seems to be the best we've got right now. The converted midfielder has been a bit of a revelation as a left back and it was a bit of a relief that we found one to put on our team.
Aurilien Collin (7 votes): Perhaps better known as "that annoying guy who plays next to Matt Besler" it's hard to argue against his effectiveness. Collin has an engaging personality but has a reputation for some rather dirty play. Still, has to be one of the top center backs in the league.
Graham Zusi (17 votes): Pretty amazing to think that it wasn't so long ago the 26-year-old was a second-round SuperDraft pick and that as recently as 2010 he wasn't even a regular starter. Now, he's one of the main cogs in Sporting KC's attack, as well as a key contributor to the national team. His four goals and six assists don't jump off the page, but still not that big of a surprise that he got more votes than any other player.
Mike Magee (14 votes): Whether he plays forward or midfield is a bit irrelevant, but we have him penciled in as our starting left mid. Magee has single-handedly turned around the Chicago Fire's fortunes, logging seven goals and two assists in nine games. That gives him 13 goals for the season, tied for the top figure in the league. One of these days, Jurgen Klinsmann will notice.
Will Johnson (13 ballots): I'll admit I was a bit skeptical when I saw the Portland Timbers were planning to make him a focal point of their team, but he's been every bit as good as expected. The Canadian captain has helped stabilize the Timbers midfield as well as providing six goals and three assists.
Patrice Bernier (7 ballots): He hasn't shown the scoring touch he did a year ago with just two goals and five assists through 20 appearances, but he's also a big reason the Montreal Impact have been among the top teams in the league all year.
Beckerman (7 ballots): At this point, his outstanding play is almost taken for granted. The 31-year-old, though, is having another productive season with two goals and three assists despite playing a much more defensive position. Very telling is how RSL performs without him, and they went 1-2-1 with eight goals allowed in their recent four-game stretch.
Brad Davis (six ballots): Going to admit this is a pick that seems entirely based on reputation and probably not the brightest moment for either us or MLS, who also named him to the team. But then again, if this is about picking the players most capable of beating AS Roma, maybe it's fair to overlook that he's only played 1,072 minutes. He has, after all, still managed three goals and four assists in limited time.
Marco Di Vaio (12 ballots): One of the most cultured players in the league is putting together quite a season. The Serie A veteran has 11 goals in his first 19 appearances, just one short of the league lead. Not bad for a guy who just turned 37.
Camilo Sanvezzo (12 ballots): Another player who has possibly snuck under the radar a little bit, but the 25-year-old Brazilian has more combined goals and assists (13 and three) than any other player in the league. He's also the hottest player in the league, having scored 11 goals and bagging three assists in his past 11 matches.
Robbie Keane (12 ballots): He's currently injured, but we're not holding that against him. The Ireland international has the second most combined goals and assists (seven and eight), despite playing just 1,052 minutes. Arguably the best player in MLS is also it's most productive on a per-minute basis.
Thierry Henry (six ballots): What would an All-Star team be without the biggest name in the league? Henry isn't all sizzle, either, as the 36-year-old is having another productive season with seven goals and five assists.
Big thanks to all the participants in our voting process. SB Nation proudly has blogs dedicated to all 19 MLS teams, and they are banging out wonderful stories on a daily basis.
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