Photo by ISIphotos.com
Almost eleven months ago, during a sunny week in South Florida, you could tell the 2009 MLS Draft Class had the potential to be special.
During the rough days of the MLS Combine, even as player struggled with fitness and playing with their new teammates, there was a sense that this year's crop of talent had the potential to provide MLS with a serious infusion of talent. Even as some skeptics refused to believe it, teams throughout the league knew what was coming.
The result was a deep collection of MLS-ready players who helped ease the league's growing pains and helped boost a player pool that needed to be rejuvenated. The result was a total of nine rookies playing more than 2000 minutes this season, an unimaginable number in years past.
This year's class lacked goal-scorers, due at least in part to the departure of MLS prospects Marcus Tracy and Mike Grella to Europe, but it made up for that with a loaded group of defenders and quality collection of midfielders.
Here is a look at the 2009 SBI MLS Rookie Best XI:
SBI 2009 MLS Rookie Best XI
——Steve Zakuani——————————–Jeremy Hall——-
—Rodney Wallace———-Sam Cronin———–A.J. De La Garza
Matt Besler—–Omar Gonzalez—-Darrius Barnes—–Kevin Alston
——————–O'Brian White—–Quincy Amarikwa—————
Graham Zusi—————Baggio Husidic—————Raphael Cox
—————-Michael Lahoud——-Nick Zimmerman—————
———Gerson Mayen—–George John——Michael Holody——–
PLEASE don't get caught up in where these players are listed positionally. The Best XI is the group of the 11 best players, I then lined them up to fit on the squad. I realize that Jeremy Hall didn't play right wing much this year, nor did A.J. DeLaGarza play in midfield as his regular position.
The Best XI was pretty locked in, but Michael Lahoud came closest from the second team to cracking the first team.
The second team is as much a group of players chosen on potential as on actual performance, but that said, players still had to have played some minutes to be considered.
D.C. United's Brandon Barklage, Columbus' Alex Grendi were Chicago's Stefan Dimitrov were also considered for the second team.
Please note that these players are all classified as rookies under the MLS definition of rookie, which is a player who hadn't previously been under contract with a pro team of any kind. This is why players such as Kyle Davies and Eric Brunner were not selected.
What do you think of this squad? Any players you feel should have made the Best XI that didn't? Which rookies impressed you the most this year?
Share your thoughts below.