Photo by Toronto FC
After successful 2017 seasons, including a U.S. Open Cup victory and a run to the MLS Cup Final, three PDL alums have been named to the 2017 MLS Best XI squad.
Leading the honors are a pair of Sporting Kansas City teammates. First is goalkeeper Tim Melia, who posted his best season to date while leading MLS in goals-against average, save percentage and fewest team goals allowed. Melia also set career bests in appearances, wins, shutouts and saves. While guiding Sporting KC to its fourth U.S. Open Cup title, Melia performed well enough to run away with the 2017 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year vote, making his addition to the Best XI squad a formality.
Joining Melia is a key defensive teammate at Sporting KC, as Ike Opara makes the cut as well. Oft-injured, Opara was finally able to remain on the field a majority of the season in 2017, leading to his best performance yet. In Opara’s 30 appearances, Sporting KC allowed just 23 goals and posted a 12-6-12 record in those matches. His presence was even more noticeable during his four game absence midway through the season, as the team went 0-3-1 without him. Like Melia, Opara was impressive enough to earn 2017 MLS Defender of the Year honors and was a no-brainer inclusion.
Also named to the Best XI back-four was Toronto FC’s Justin Morrow. The versatile Morrow primarily played as a center-back or on the left side of Toronto FC’s three-man defense, but managed to be very effective in attack despite his defensive duties and helped lead Toronto FC to its first Supporters’ Shield and second consecutive MLS Cup Final. Morrow recorded eight goals and one assist in his 28 appearances, all while helping Toronto FC concede just 37 goals all season. His performances earned Morrow a call-up to the U.S. Men’s National Team, where he made two appearances during the team’s run to the 2017 Gold Cup title.
Here’s a look at the full MLS Best XI in 2017.
GK Tim Melia (Sporting Kansas City)
D Justin Morrow (Toronto FC)
D Ike Opara (Sporting Kansas City)
D Kendall Watson (Vancouver Whitecaps)
M Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers)
M Miguel Almiron (Atlanta United FC)
M Victor Vazquez (Toronto FC)
F David Villa (New York City FC)
F Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto FC)
F Josef Martinez (Atlanta United FC)
F Nemanja Nikolic (Chicago Fire)