Sorry, New York City FC fans. Center back Alexander Callens did not make the MLS Best XI, despite an outstanding season on both sides of the ball.
Major League Soccer Wednesday announced its Best XI.
The Best XI – recognizing the league’s top players at each position as determined by media, MLS players, and MLS club technical staffs – represents seven nations and six clubs – all of which qualified for the MLS Cup Playoffs.
The group of 11 standouts features six players who were selected to their first Best XI.
2022 MLS Best XI
Goalkeeper: Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union)
Defenders: Jakob Glesnes (Philadelphia Union), Kai Wagner (Philadelphia Union), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC)
Midfielders: Luciano Acosta (FC Cincinnati), Sebastián Driussi (Austin FC), Dániel Gazdag (Philadelphia Union), Hany Mukhtar (Nashville SC)
Forwards: Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas), Brandon Vázquez (FC Cincinnati), Carlos Vela (LAFC)
After producing the second-best goal differential (+46) in MLS history, the Philadelphia Union placed four players on the Best XI roster, which is tied for the second most in league history (D.C. United: 1997, 2006; Chicago Fire FC: 1998, 2003; LA Galaxy: 2010, 2011; New England Revolution: 2021) behind only the Miami Fusion’s five in 2001. The Union became the second club in MLS history club to have a goalkeeper, two defenders, and one midfielder in the Best XI, joining Sporting Kansas City in 2012.
Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Andre Blake was selected to the Best XI for the third time in his career, the most by a goalkeeper in MLS history. Blake allowed just 0.76 goals per game in 2022, marking the best average by a goalkeeper who played in all 34 games of a single season. Additionally, his 15 shutouts tied Sporting Kansas City’s Jimmy Nielsen in 2012 for the second most in a season in league history.
Blake is joined by two of his backline teammates in Jakob Glesnes and Kai Wagner, both of whom earned MLS Best XI selections for the first time in their careers. Glesnes was the only outfield player in MLS this season to start and play every single minute (3,060) and did so for a defense that allowed just 0.76 goals per game, which was the second-best mark in a season in league history. Wagner was impressive in both defense and attack, as he set the MLS single-season record for assists by a defender, providing 15 in 2022.
The final defender in the Best XI is Nashville SC’s Walker Zimmerman, who became the fifth player to be named to the Best XI in four consecutive seasons, joining Chris Armas (1998-2001), Landon Donovan (2008-12), Marco Etcheverry (1996-99), and Robbie Keane (2012-15). Zimmerman is the first defender in MLS history to do so after leading a Nashville back line that conceded the fourth-fewest goals (41) in 2022.
The boys balled out. 🌟
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) November 2, 2022
Zimmerman’s teammate Hany Mukhtar continues to receive accolades for his stellar 2022 season, earning his second consecutive MLS Best XI appearance after winning the Landon Donovan MLS Most Valuable Player and the 2022 MLS Golden Boot presented by Audi. Mukhtar led the league with 23 goals and added 11 assists and the German’s 34 goal contributions were the most in MLS and two more than the next closest player, Philadelphia Union midfielder Dániel Gazdag, who earned his first career Best XI selection. Mukhtar and Gazdag became the fifth and sixth players in league history to total at least 20 goals and 10 assists in a season.
Two Argentine playmakers – Austin FC’s Sebastián Driussi and FC Cincinnati’s Luciano Acosta – round out the final spots in the midfield of the Best XI. Driussi is the first player in Austin history to be named to the Best XI after finishing with 22 goals and seven assists, helping the Verde earn their first-ever postseason appearance. Acosta received the second Best XI selection of his career (2018 with D.C. United) by becoming the 10th player in league history to produce at least 19 assists in a season. He is just the sixth midfielder in MLS history to make a Best XI team with two different clubs.
Acosta joins his teammate Brandon Vázquez as the first two players in FC Cincinnati history to be named to the Best XI. Vázquez’ career-high 18 goals and eight assists in 2022 helped him earn one of the three forward positions alongside FC Dallas’ Jesús Ferreira and LAFC’s Carlos Vela. Ferreira, also named the 2022 MLS Young Player of the Year, is the fourth player since 2010 to be selected to the Best XI at 21 years or younger after scoring 18 goals this season. Carlos Vela completes the forward group and has been named to his third Best XI in the past five years. Vela is one of five active MLS players to earn three Best XI selections and the first in LAFC history.