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MLS 2013 preseason Best XI: All-United States version

Feb 28, 2013, 7:05 PM EDT

2012 MLS Cup - Los Angeles Galaxy Training Session Getty Images

As part of our ongoing package previewing the start of Major League Soccer’s 18th season, here are the best and brightest MLS men who are eligible to play for the United States na tional team:

GOALKEEPER:

  • GK = Real Salt Lake’s Nick Rimando

Why we like him: Real Salt Lake’s backstopper is solidly ensconced as Jurgen Klinsmann’s third man in the net. Just 33 years old — not a bit too old for ‘keepers — he is about to begin his 14th season as an MLS starter. How about them apples?

BACK LINE:

  • RB = Real Salt Lake’s Tony Beltran
  • CM = Sporting Kansas City’s Matt Besler
  • CB = LA Galaxy’s Omar Gonzalez (pictured)
  • LB = New York Red Bulls’ Heath Pearce

Why we like them: Those who would like to debate the center back scene haven’t been paying attention. Gonzalez is a no-brainer (now apparently a U.S. starter until further notice) and Besler isn’t far behind. Beltran just edges San Jose’s Steven Beitashour for right back. Pearce is an interesting one because the Red Bulls and, before that, Chivas USA, like to use him at center back. But Pearce has 35 full U.S. national team appearances … all at left back. That’s his best spot.

MIDFIELD:

  • RM = D.C. United’s Chris Pontius
  • HM = Real Salt Lake’s Kyle Beckerman
  • LM = Houston Dynamo’s Brad Davis
  • AM = Sporting Kansas City’s Graham Zusi

Why we like them: Pontius lines up at left midfield or forward for D.C. United; I’m sure he’d play along the right if asked for our little team here. Before anyone reminds me that Osvaldo Alonso is now an American citizen, he is not yet eligible to play for the United States; There are still some fairly significant FIFA hoops to jump. So, it’s Beckerman, who is well in the U.S. national team muddle of holding mids. Between Zusi, Davis and Pontius, you could move them around liberally at the three most advanced midfield spots.

FRONT LINE:

  • FW = San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski
  • FW = Seattle Sounder’s Eddie Johnson

Why we like them: A total of 41 goals between them last year in league play (27 by Wondolowski)? Yep, we’ll take some of that.

(MORE: full roster of ProSoccerTalk’s Major League Soccer previews and predictions)

  1. dreadpirate82 - Feb 28, 2013 at 7:44 PM

    I am OUTRAGED that you left off…nah, give me that team any day. You could quibble over the right and left back spots, but that’s a solid lineup. Donovan would add a lot of punch once he returns.

    • Steve Davis - Feb 28, 2013 at 8:21 PM

      yeah, i just couldn’t put Donovan on at this point as it is a “preseason” Best XI … although he clearly deserves a spot if he comes back at “Full Donovan”

  2. ndnut - Feb 28, 2013 at 11:55 PM

    Did you consider Ozzie Alonso American or not?

    • Steve Davis - Mar 1, 2013 at 7:54 AM

      Covered that in the Midfield comments ….

  3. ndnut - Mar 1, 2013 at 8:29 AM

    Sorry. I skimmed the article in a hurry and missed that. Thanks for directing me.

  4. twotone2 - Mar 2, 2013 at 3:55 PM

    Zach Loyd at right back????

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