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Who are the best players in Major League Soccer?
That's an interesting question to ponder at the start of every season and with the 2009 MLS season just three days away, it is worth looking at just which players represent the best of the best.
Don't expect too many surprises in the MLS pre-season Best XI. We will offer up our take on the All-Breakout Best XI later this week. This Best XI doesn't just feature the players I think are the best in the league, but also the players poised to have the biggest seasons.
Here is the SBI MLS Pre-Season Best XI (and second and third-best XIs):
SBI MLS PRE-SEASON BEST XI
———Juan Pablo Angel——Landon Donovan————
—————-Guillermo Barros Schelotto——————-
Dwayne DeRosario——————————–Chris Rolfe
Gonzalo Segares——————————–Marvell Wynne
————–Chad Marshall——Wilman Conde—————
————-Fredy Montero—-Kenny Cooper—————–
Darren Huckerby———————————Sacha Kljestan
Chris Wingert———————————–Frankie Hejduk
—————–Jimmy Conrad—Bakary Soumare————–
————-Brian Ching———-Brian McBride—————-
Robbie Rogers————————————Steve Ralston
Michael Harrington——————————-Sean Franklin
—————–Bobby Boswell—–Jamison Olave—————
If there is a bit of a long-shot in the first team it is Chris Rolfe, who I see having a true breakout year for the Fire. Do I think he is one of the 11 best players in MLS? No, but I think he will have the best season of any right winger in MLS. I almost put Kljestan on first team, but I see him leaving at mid-season and I think Chivas USA will struggle some this year. I also considered Ralston, but I just think Rolfe is going to have a 10-12 goal season on a very good Fire team.
Kasey Keller makes the team in his first year in MLS. Yes, he's been out of action for a year, but it's tough to forget his top form for Fulham a year ago. There were plenty of good goalkeeping candidates, such as Cannon, Busch, Reis, Onstad and Hesmer, but I'm going with Keller to have a big year.
There were obviously some tough calls, like Schelotto over Blanco (okay, not that tough, but both are deserving) and Conde over Conrad and Soumare. The top four centerbacks listed here are in their own class and there is a drop off after that group. I probably could have gone with a three-man defense to fit Blanco on the Best XI, but stuck with the four-man defense instead.
What do you think of the teams? Any surprises? Any players you feel should have made a team? What is your Pre-season Best XI?
Share your thoughts and picks below.