SBI 2011 MLS All-Rookie Team

CJSapong (Getty)

The 2011 MLS Draft was considered a good one with more long-term upside than immediate contributors when it took place last January, but as the season went on, we realized that the number of rookies who would wind up playing key roles on teams would be higher than most would have expected.

Whether it was C.J. Sapong playing a major part in Sporting Kansas City's climb from worst to first in the East, to A.J. Soares establishing himself as the best defender on New England in year one, there were several rookies who flourished in their first seasons as pros.

In fact, there were so many solid rookie seasons that we wound up with a handful of worthy candidates for the SBI MLS All-Rookie Team who fell short of selection. Columbus' Rich Balchan, New England's Stephen McCarthy and Vancouver's Michael Boxhall all earned 18 starts for their clubs this seasons and all have bright futures as they move forward into 2012, but none of them made our MLS All-Rookie Team.

When thinking of the 2011 MLS Rookie class, you should also remember that there were several top young prospects in it who didn't contribute much in 2011. Players such as Omar Salgado (Vancouver), Diego Fagundez (New England) and Zach Pfeffer (Philadelphia) to name a few.

Please keep in mind that our selections are players who qualify as rookies under the MLS definition of a rookie, which is any player who hadn't been under a professional contract prior to the 2011 MLS season. That means Toronto FC standout newcomer Joao Plata does NOT qualify despite having been selected in the 2011 MLS Draft.

So who were the top rookies in MLS this season? Here are my picks for the 2011 SBI MLS All-Rookie Team:


GK- ZAC MACMATH, Philadelphia Union

7 starts, 3-0-4 record, 3 shutouts

D- A.J. SOARES, New England Revolution

28 starts, 1 goals, MLS-rookie best 2860 minutes played

D- JALIL ANIBABA, Chicago Fire

27 starts, 2 goals, 2508 minutes played


MLS Rookie Best 31 starts, 2781 minutes played, 1 goal


24 starts, 2114 minutes played


21 starts, 24 games, 1928 minutes played, 1 goal

M- DARLINGTON NAGbE, Portland Timbers

21 starts, 28 games played, 2 goals, 3 assists, 1651 minutes played

M- MICHAEL FARFAN, Philadelphia Union

13 starts, 21 games played, 2 goals, 3 assists, 1460 minutes played

M- JEB BROVSKY, Vancouver Whitecaps

16 starts, 24 games played, 1509 minutes, 1 assist

F- C.J. SAPONG, Sporting Kansas City

22 starts, 2096 minutes played, MLS Rookie Bests 34 games played, 5 goals, 5 assists

F- WILL BRUIN, Houston Dynamo

21 starts, 24 games played, 1679 minutes, MLS Rookie Best 5 goals, 1 assist


What do you think of these picks? Which rookies impressed you the most this year? Which rookies not on our list do you feel should have made the SBI All-Rookie Best XI?

Share your thoughts below.

  • Quakes2012MLSchamps

    Where is Simon Dawkins? Does he not count as a rookie? 6 goals and 2 assists as an attacking midfielder in 19 starts / 1773 minutes.

    (SBI-Having a contract with Tottenham disqualifies him. Pretty simple.)


  • Brian

    Err my bad. I thought you said older and not other. And I doubt being a youth player for Club America would disqualify him. He never played a match for the senior side.


  • MJC-DC

    You probably saw Kitchen in one of his few bad games. As a rookie, stuck into an injured and undermanned defense (for most the year) he played extremely well. In his last two games DC fans finally got to see him in D-Mid (this may be his future position) and he showed well.


  • Broad Street Hooligans

    From xbhaskarx on BigSoccer


    The most-vaunted college prospect in this year’s class, who didn’t make it in time to Baltimore for the event due to a technical snag in his recently-approved P-1 visa
    P visa:

    A P visa is a type of temporary employment visa of the United States,, granted to alien athletes, artists, and entertainers, and their spouses and children. The term “P” refers to 8 U.S.C. § 1101(P), Section 101 of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

    P-1 applies to individual or team athletes, or members of an entertainment group (P-1B) that are internationally recognized. A maximum of 25,000 P visas are issued annually.

    So he doesn’t even have a green card yet? And he wouldn’t become a US citizen for 4-5 years after getting his green card?


  • ChrisTheLSUTiger

    You could also ask Alejandro Bedoya, Clarence Goodson, and pre-injury Charlie Davies.


  • marco

    Interesting that the Sounders with 6 picks could have picked up Ives’ all stars Anibaba or Soares or both (trading away their last four to move up) but instead traded away their top two picks. Sounders GM Hanauer said there was no one they liked in top rated ten. Sounders, although a top notch organization have done poorly in draft but very well in international signings. They need to look at how they perform in the draft.


  • fischy

    I agree with Wayne. Kitchen ain’t a defender. We’ll see if he develops as a midfielder. I also have a lot of issues with Ethan White. Dude had his fair share of mental lapses and his passing is horrible. I can see why Cirovski was stunned that White even thought to go pro when he did. He wasn’t ready. That said, they’re both young kids and should improve a lot. They certain have a lot of room for improvement. If they’re on the All-Rookie team, it must’ve been slim pickings.


  • abc

    I definitely see Kitchen as a D-Mid long term, not as a CB.

    Both he and White were very questionable all year at CB…


  • fischy

    Glad to see I’m not the only massive CJ Sapong fan. I admit I didn’t see KC play much — barely at all, in fact. But Sapong’s highlight reel was seriously impressive.


  • Juan from L.A.

    Uhmm why hasn’t this been reflected in our Youth teams. Mexico just for an example and with Chivas Guad has a very young talented team (many who debuted this season) with one yank who would be on top of this list (Ponce), meanwhile we have NY Redbulls who only lines up one American. So to answer your question…no!


  • Judging Amy

    Agreed. I think that’s an essential point (that colleges need to continue to improve the way they prepares players for the pros).


  • will

    Some nice american girl needs to take one for the team, and marry him. Almost automatic green card and only 3 years to citizenship.


  • Annelid Gustator

    Ives explicitly noted that he was ineligible as having been previously under pro contract.


  • jim b

    Sapong for ROY is an absolute no-brainer. Any other outcome would be beyond comprehension


  • Bakasama

    Already in the works. He got engaged this year and I believe the wedding is this Winter.


  • Cavan

    It also reflects that the league has been around long enough where the kids out there now are being coached by ex-MLS players rather than dads who never played the game.


  • Cavan

    Completely agreed. College is part of the solution, not part of the problem. We need the academies, of course, but there are plenty of late blooming stars and future MLS role players (very important to win championships in a salary-capped league, in some ways the quality of the league is determined by the quality of the role players as there are more of them) coming from college.

    College used to be a place that was mostly brawn rather than skills and ball movement. That is still often true outside the top 25 or so. However, the college game for the national championship contenders is looking more and more like the BCS to the MLS’s NFL. There are more and more soccer coaches out there who played in MLS who are producing more and more fundamentally sound talent.


  • VADCUfan

    It depends on how you look at DC’s season. The middle third of the season they were one of the better defensive teams in the league. But in the first and final thirds they were really inconsistent with multiple goals given up in games followed by shutouts. The potential for excellence is clear with both of them, but they lacked the consistency to carry the team’s D throughout the season.


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