Four of the MLS Best XI players, announced Tuesday by commissioner Don Garber, will compete in the MLS Cup final. The LA Galaxy’s Designated Player trio of Omar Gonzalez, Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane join New England Revolution midfielder Lee Nguyen in the group recognized as the league’s best for 2014.
LA led the final tally with its three players, while the New York Red Bulls, Seattle Sounders and D.C. United added two each. New England and the Portland Timbers round out the franchises represented on the list.
With his selection in his final professional season, Donovan takes over sole possession of the most individual appearances in the Best XI, his seven just one better than Dwayne De Rosario. It’s also Gonzalez’s fourth honor. Along with Donovan retiring on a high note – and potentially a higher one if his Galaxy can win what would be his record sixth MLS Cup on Sunday – Thierry Henry also leaves on top with Best XI honors. He announced Monday he would not be returning to the Red Bulls.
They are joined by Seattle's Chad Marshall and Obafemi Martins; D.C.'s Bill Hamid and Bobby Boswell; Portland's Diego Valeri and New York's record-tying goal-scorer Bradley Wright-Phillips.
Here is the 2014 MLS Best XI, as voted by media, players and coaches in an unusual 3-3-4 formation:
Two major individual awards for the season have been announced so far, with Defender of the Year Marshall making the Best XI, but rookie Tesho Akindele of FC Dallas missing out.
The MLS Goalkeeper of the Year will be announced Wednesday, and with his selection to the Best XI, it seems Hamid will win his first award.
If that is indeed the case, Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando will again be passed over, despite leading the league with a 1.04 goals-against average and a whopping four saves on five penalty kicks he faced this season.
Hamid did have a slightly higher save percentage, at 75 to Rimando’s 73, and he wasn’t far behind with his 1.13 goals-against average for the Eastern Conference’s top playoff seed.
The MLS MVP will also be announced Wednesday in Los Angeles, where the MLS Cup final will be held Sunday. Keane, Martins and Nguyen are the final candidates, and it would be any of the trio’s first MVP award.