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Carlos Vela leads 2019 MLS Best XI

Record goal scorer Carlos Vela leads a talented group

Jul 30, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; MLS forward Carlos Vela (10) during training for the 2019 MLS All Star Game at Exploria Stadium. (Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports)
Jul 30, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; MLS forward Carlos Vela (10) during training for the 2019 MLS All Star Game at Exploria Stadium. (Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports)

Major League Soccer revealed the 2019 MLS Best XI — the league’s top players at every position — Monday afternoon.

This year’s Best XI includes players from eight different nations and representatives from seven of the league’s 24 clubs. Select media, MLS players and MLS technical staffs determine the annual honor. 

Minnesota United FC’s Vito Mannone, who last week was named the 2019 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, was also named to the Best XI.

The Best XI back line includes center backs Miles Robinson of Atlanta United, Walker Zimmerman of Los Angeles FC, and Minnesota’s Ike Opara – who was named the 2019 MLS Defender of the Year Oct. 17.

The midfielders are Los Angeles FC’s Eduard Atuesta, New York City FC’s Maxi Moralez, Toronto FC’s Alejandro Pozuelo, and the New England Revolution’s Carles Gil — the winner of the 2019 Newcomer of the Year Award.

The Best XI’s forward core contains 2019 MLS MVP and Golden Boot winner Carlos Vela of LAFC, 2019 Goal of the Year winner Josef Martínez of Atlanta United, and the Los Angeles Galaxy’s Zlatan Ibrahimović. Vela (34 goals) Martínez (27 goals) and Ibrahimović (30 goals) were the league’s top three scorers this season.

Vela, a Mexico international, arguably had the best season a player has ever had in MLS in 2019: He broke the league’s single-season scoring record, helped LAFC win the Supporters’ Shield and is one win from competing for his club’s first-ever MLS Cup next month.

Ibrahimović, the outspoken, 37-year-old striker from Sweden, joined Vela as the only players league-wide to average more than one goal per game during the season (with a minimum 10 games played).

Martínez, who won the Golden Boot in 2018, stayed hot this year. The Venezuelan had a 15-game scoring streak going at one point this season, the second-longest scoring streak in world soccer since MLS launched in 1996 (behind FC Barcelona legend Lionel Messi and his 21-game scoring streak in 2013-14).

Opara, Zimmerman, and Robinson are the only Americans on this year’s Best XI.

Opara, a two-time Defender of the Year winner, helped lead Minnesota United to its first-ever playoff berth.

Robinson, who became a starter this year in his third season with Atlanta, helped his club win the 2019 Campeones Cup and Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

Zimmerman led an LAFC back line that finished the season with the league’s best defensive record and anchored the club’s Supporters’ Shield-winning season.

Mannone, Carles Gil, and Pozuelo all were newcomers to MLS this year.

Mannone, who is from Italy, played in all 34 of Minnesota’s regular-season games and recorded 175 saves and 11 clean sheets.

Pozuelo and Carles Gil were two of only four players league-wide who netted double-digit goals and assists this year. Pozuelo, a 28-year-old Spanish midfielder, had 12 goals and 12 assists this year. Carles Gil, also from Spain, contributed 10 goals and 14 assists. He is the first Revolution player to appear on the MLS Best XI since Lee Nguyen in 2014.

Argentine Maxi Moralez led the league in assists, with 20, and also contributed seven goals for his NYCFC team that finished the regular season atop the Eastern Conference. Atuesta, a 22-year-old from Colombia, offered 11 assists in 2019 and was among the top 15 distributors in MLS this season.

This marks the second time Opara, Ibrahimović, and Vela have been named to the Best XI. Martinez has now been named three times. The seven other players are first-time selections.

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