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See any Major League Soccer Best XI snubs?

Nov 27, 2012, 8:21 AM EDT

AT&T MLS All Star Game - Chelsea v MLS All Stars Getty Images

Major League Soccer announced its Best XI for 2012 Monday afternoon. Hard to disagree with most of the list, as Richard Farley mentioned previously on the blog, but I do see one name perhaps conspicuous by his absence:

Jay DeMerit of the Vancouver Whitecaps:

Most Whitecaps matches I watched, the veteran, former U.S. international was somewhere between “composed and steady” and “just this side of heroic.” Considering the players around him (mostly in the good-but-not-great category), I thought DeMerit deserved a Best XI spot.

Who I would subtract from Monday’s official list? Sporting Kansas City did have a great defense, leading MLS in goals allowed with 27. But three men from the rear guard on the Best XI (two defenders and a goalkeeper)? There must be some mathematical formula that demonstrates how one Best XI reduces the need for others around them to be of Best XI quality. Hence: Aurélien Collin was not on my list.

Let’s put it this way: I know Collins is younger, but if I were starting an MLS team and offered one of these two, it’s a no-brainer. Consider the leadership and the volatility factor – DeMerit doesn’t have much of it, Collin is chock full of it – it’s no contest in my book.

(MORE: ProSoccerTalk’s Best XI selections)

  1. east96st - Nov 27, 2012 at 9:11 AM

    With sincere apologies for repeating the post I had on Mr. Farley’s story, but I think it applies here even more so:

    No one did more with less than Gruenebaum. This is outright robbery. Andy faced 166 shots and Nielsen faced 102. Yet, their save percentage – 75% – is identical. Combine that with SKC having TWO defensemen make the top 11, while NO ONE on the Crew defense was even considered for the list, and it should have Gruenebaum’s honor to lose. Is Nielsen a great keeper? Yep. But life for a great keeper is sure a LOT easier when you have 1) a defense 2) a team that can score and 3) a team that has the lead in most games and can play to protect that lead. Nielsen had all of that and Andy had none of it.

    • Steve Davis - Nov 27, 2012 at 9:57 AM

      I have made my case repeatedly for Andy G. … But there seems to be little support out there (beyond your well-made case, that is), so I have conceded the fight.

      • east96st - Nov 27, 2012 at 1:58 PM

        Steve – You & PST have been very fair in assessing Gruenebaum’s season. No complaints at all. It’s just a pet peeve of mine that the vast majority of the media will throw their hands to the sky and gnash their teeth when a very good offensive player is on a bad, small market team – in ANY sport, not just soccer. The cliches are so worn, we all know them by heart. “Imagine what he could do if only he had some support, playmakers around him, ownership willing to spend, etc., etc.”. And the offensive players DO get recognized. They get to go to All Star games and get post season recognition. But a defensive player? Unless he breaks a record, he gets the slap on back and “Good job, kid” treatment from the press. It influences fans and the Leagues. I just fail to understand why the double standard exists. It is entirely possible to be a great player on a bad team, no matter position you play. Those men should recognized whether they score goals or stop them from going in. I think even the most biased SKC fan would acknowledge that Nielsen had a hell of a lot more help in front of him than Gruenebaum did. Andy facing 64 more shots on goal than Nielsen did, while playing in one less game, is an absolutely mind blowing statistic. I certainly doesn’t mean Nielsen did a bad job. He didn’t. He did a great job. But it does point out a tremendous difference in the two teams, their defenses, and what they ask their goalie to do. Would SKC have made the playoffs with a lesser goalie? Probably. Would the Crew have been in the hunt as long as they were without Gruenebaum? Absolutely not. For me, that tips the scale towards the honor going to Andy. With that, I let the matter rest, and offer a sincere congrats to Nielsen. He is an outstanding keeper.

    • dreadpirate82 - Nov 27, 2012 at 10:28 AM

      SKC homer here, and I think Collin deserves the Best XI honors more than Nielsen. Jimmy had a fantastic season, but it’s kind of amazing how little he was forced to do throughout the season. That’s not his fault, of course, but the guys in front of him did most of the heavy lifting. Besler, Collin, & Co erased so much that could have tested The White Puma. Gruenebaum would be my choice. Every time I watched him, he had a great game.

      You guys have mentioned a bunch of other guys who are worthy of honors, but it’s difficult to argue too hard with any of the choices. All of them were excellent this season. Good work by the voters.

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