SBI MLS Under-23 Best XI

Diego Fagundez

Photo by ISIPhotos.com


The 2013 MLS season saw the coming of age of many of the league’s best young prospects, including several who helped lead their teams to better-than-expected campaigns.

The New England Revolution tandem of Diego Fagundez and Kelyn Rowe headline the 2013 SBI MLS Under-23 Best XI after they helped lead the Revs to a run to the playoffs that included a nail-biting series loss to eventual MLS Cup champion Sporting Kansas City.

Darlington Nagbe enjoyed a breakout season of his own, helping the Portland Timbers finish with the best record in the Western Conference.

The criteria to be eligible for the SBI MLS Under-23 Best XI is simple. Any player born on January 1, 1990 or sooner is eligible to be on the team (basically anyone who was younger than 23 when the year began).

Who else made the SBI MLS Under-23 Best XI? Here are our selections:

SBI MLS Under-23 Best XI

(age in parentheses)

—–Darlington Nagbe-(23)—–Diego Fagundez-(18)—–

—Luis Gil (20)– Dillon Powers-(22)—Kelyn Rowe-(22)

————————Uri Rosell (21)————————-

Chris Klute (23)——————–Sheanon Williams (23)

——–Matt Hedges (23)———Amobi Okugo (22)——

———————-Zac MacMath (22)———————-

Honorable Mention:

Bill Hamid (23); DeAndre Yedlin (20), Kofi Sarkodie (22), Andrew Farrell (22), Shane O’Neill (20), Andrew Jean-Baptiste (21), Ethan White (22), Kellyn Acosta (18); Perry Kitchen (21), Gershon Koffie (22), Jonathan Osorio (21), Wil Trapp (20); Deshorn Brown (23), Juan Agudelo (20), Jack McInerney (21), Gyasi Zardes (22), Kekuta Manneh (18).


What did you think of the selections? Who do you feel should have made the Best XI that didn’t? Who are you happy to see included?

Share your thoughts below.

  • Brain Guy

    It may be an interesting exercise to take a “snapshot” of this page and then re-visit the situation in three years, to see whether and how promise turned into success.


  • Travis

    Putting aside the fact I’m a Sounders fan I really do think that Yedlin should be in there over Williams. Yedlin’s crossing got a lot better throughout the year and there were numerous games that he might have been Seattle’s most dangerous option going forward. Also he saved our overzealous CBs many times throughout the year.

    Also wonder if O’Neill should flip spots with one of the CBs, was really good for the majority of this year. Overall though its a good list and if the MLS can keep some talent it speaks well for the future of the league.


      • Travis

        Not a ton cause they aren’t on national TV much but I did see them a couple times. Yedlin does have his faults (he loses his mark randomly at times) but I think he was slightly better overall than what I saw of Williams


      • TomG

        My pint is that you can judge Yedlin, but tough for you to say he’s better than Sheanon who you didn’t really see. I’d bet that even the couple matches you did see, you weren’t really focusing on evaluating him. I know I wasn’t. I was kind of surprised to see Sheanon over Yedlin/Farrell, but cnat really speak to Sheanon. I wish the SBI staff would read the comment and defend their choices with a little info. That would be cool, bc it’s tough for me to judge. Any Philly fans out fhere that can speak to it?


      • russman

        Williams tied an MLS record for assists from a defender with 8 this year and also does a very solid job defensively.


      • Esteban de la Sexface

        Union season ticket holder here. Williams has been a consistently strong performer the past two seasons. He can attack and defend plus he has a long throw to boot. His crossing is still a bit inconsistent, but it improved enough this season to get all those assists. A little more polish and he’s the league’s best right back (still behind Beltran and Lee at the moment, imho).


    • Broadsthooligans

      Williams is a similar player. He’s the farthest Union player forward more than occasionally and mans nearly an entire third of the field. He tied the record forassists from a defender and is also solid enough defensively to fill in at cb. His offensive numbers are outstanding, and of course he does get beat because of his overzealous attacking mindset, but not as much as you’d expect. This season he’s started to pick his movements forward better along with improving his crosses. He’s also an entirely reliable defender when called upon to do so. I haven’t seen enough Yedlin to make the comparison.


      • Travis

        Thanks for the thoughtful responses from Union fans, obviously I did not get to see a ton of Williams but sounds like he played really well overall


  • Mak

    Got to agree about Yedlin. I’m not a Sounders fan but he had an outstanding year. It’s not a knock on Williams but Yedlin was steadier and just plain played well.


    • Ives Galarcep

      Steadier? He fell off late in the year, clearly hit the wall. He was arguably the best U-23 at that spot for the first half of the season, but anyone acting like he kept that level up all year wasn’t paying attention.


    • sammysounder

      I have to agree. Yedlin was great going forward, but he made a couple boneheaded decisions in the back and his crossing is getting better, but still not good.


  • Mike


    Matias Laba doesn’t warrant inclusion?

    That seems to me to be a bit of a glaring oversight.


  • Darwin

    It always confuses me that an Under-x team has players of x age. I mean, in December, several players may be just a couple weeks shy of x+1 years of age. For this, I don’t understand why the U-23 isn’t comprised of players born after January 1, 1989, other than convention.


    • Ives Galarcep

      It’s how youth age teams are handled. If you are UNDER that age when the year starts then you count as UNDER-whatever age we’re talking about. What’s confusing about that?


  • MJC-DC

    If this wasn’t such an attack heavy 11 (and that makes sense for typical best 11’s) would Perry Kitchen have gotten the starting nod? Obviously I’m a little biased. That said, he is both a class act and one hell of a talent, which I’m glad DC landed at #3 in 2011.


  • michael f. sbi mafia original

    I really wish a few of these kids would break into the full men’t national team. surely some are better than who we have…right?


    • Travis

      The most exciting player in that group isn’t even available for the USMNT (Fagundez). Gil is probably only a year or two away from getting serious looks.


    • Timmy U

      Next year you should start to see a few more of these names popping up, at least in discussion and camp invites. Klinsmann is noted for bringing youth into his national team setups and we’ll start getting ready for a new cycle as soon as this one concludes this summer.


  • TFC OZZ - Disgruntled TFC Fan


    I’m honestly quite shocked that Osorio isn’t listed in the starting XI. Obviously I have a lot of bias being a TFC fan, but boy did he ever stand out on a garbage team this season.

    That’s great news for the league though to see how many young talented players there are.


  • DAN

    The lesson here is that if you want people to pay attention to you on the field and remember when you do something good and then in turn talk about you on the internet — get a wack ads hairdo.


    • Mark

      The lesson here is that only morons like you see a haircut and not the player underneath. But yeah, you’re right, Yedlin’s probable January camp invite is based on his hair. Jurgen just loves it.


  • Huh

    Like the starting XI, but neither Nagbe or Fagundez is a true striker. Sort of surprised that of the five strikers that made honorable mention none made the starting XI.


  • Nate Dollars

    good to see you, ives!

    macmath over hamid? i didn’t get to see macmath much this season; has he improved a lot? i recall him being pretty disappointing before.


    • Broadsthooligans

      His end to the season was more impressive than Jack McInerneys beginning to the year. If MacMath were named captain of the Union next year after what he did to end the year I wouldn’t be surprised.


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