NEW YORK – Sorry, New York City FC and Red Bulls fans, none of your players made the MLS is Back Tournament Best XI.
Then again, very few, if any of them played consistently well and long enough to be considered for the honors.
Major League Soccer Thursday revealed the Best XI, recognizing the top players at each position during the historic competition.
The 11 players named to the MLS is Back Tournament Best XI hail from different countries and representing internationals and breakout players. Four MLS clubs are represented on the Best XI with the champion Portland Timbers boasting four players, runners-up Orlando City SC and semifinalists Philadelphia Union each with three each and the Los Angeles Football Club with one player.
MLS is Back Tournament Best XI
Goalkeeper: Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union)
Defenders: Larrys Mabiala (Portland Timbers), Mark McKenzie (Philadelphia Union), João Moutinho (Orlando City SC), Ruan (Orlando City SC)
Midfielders: Brenden Aaronson (Philadelphia Union), Sebastián Blanco (Portland Timbers), Diego Chara (Portland Timbers)
Forwards: Jeremy Ebobisse (Portland Timbers), Nani (Orlando City SC), Diego Rossi (Los Angeles Football Club)
Sebastián Blanco, the MLS is Back Player of the Tournament, headlines a midfield trio in the Best XI after helping the Timbers to the tournament title. The Argentine registered five assists, tied for the tournament high, while his three goals were tied for sixth. Timber Diego Chara also made the team after anchoring Portland’s midfield, playing 90 minutes in each of the club’s seven matches. Rounding out the midfield was 19-year-old Philadelphia academy product and U.S. men’s national team breakout star Brenden Aaronson, who registered a team-high three assists.
Nani is among the three forwards in the Best XI after guiding Orlando to the final behind four assists (tied for third-most) and three goals (tied for sixth-most) in tournament play. Joining the Best XI forwards is LAFC’s 22-year-old Diego Rossi, who captured the Golden Boot with seven goals scored and was named Young Player of the tournament after leading all players with a combined 10 goals and assists. Timbers and U.S. men’s national team’s Jeremy Ebobisse, 23 rounded out the forwards after scoring four goals, tied for thirdin the tournament.
Manning the Best XI defense is 21-year-old Philadelphia academy product and U.S. Men’s National Team defender Mark McKenzie, who anchored a Union backline that posted two clean sheets and allowed a mere five goals in six matches played. Both of Orlando’s starting fullbacks in 22-year-old João Moutinho and 25-year-old Ruan also made the Best XI. A former No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft, Moutinho emerged as a breakout defensive force in the tournament while contributing a crucial assist and tournament saving goal in the Knockout Stage. Ruan, meanwhile, played all but six minutes for a backline that allowed seven goals in as many matches. Larrys Mabiala rounded out the defense after helping Portland to the title, scoring the first goal in the final while also registering a game-winning assist in the knockout stage.
Philadelphia Union’s Andre Blake, the Jamaica international captain, led all goalkeepers with 32 saves and posted a tournament-best 86.5 save percentage. Blake, a former No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft and the 2016 MLS goalkeeper of the year, was named winner of the tournament’s Golden Glove after leading the Union to the semifinals.