Three members of Major League Soccer’s Best XI for 2016 wear New York kits and are also finalists for the league’s Most Valuable Player award.
New York City FC’s David Villa and New York Red Bulls Bradley Wright-Phillips and Sacha Kljestan were named to the Best XI on Monday. The inclusion of the three should come as little surprise to fans of both New York-area teams and the league as a whole.
Wright-Phillips scored a league-leading 24 goals, trailed by Villa and his 23 goals. Kljestan provided solid leadership for the Red Bulls all season while tallying a league-leading 20 assists.
The full Best XI squad includes:
- Goalkeeper: Andre Blake, Philadelphia Union
- Defenders: Matt Hedges, FC Dallas; Axel Sjoberg, Colorado Rapids; Jelle Van Damme, LA Galaxy
- Midfielders: Mauro Diaz FC Dallas; Giovani dos Santos, LA Galaxy; Sacha Kljestan, Red Bulls; Ignacio Piatti, Montreal Impact
- Forwards: Sebastian Giovinco, Toronto FC; Bradley Wright-Phillips, Red Bulls; David Villa, NYCFC
In announcing the inclusion of the three New York players in the MLS Best XI. Major League Soccer said the following about each.
Villa makes his first MLS Best XI after scoring 23 goals and leading NYCFC to their first ever postseason appearance this season. Spain’s all-time leading goal scorer, Villa has played in three World Cups (2006, 2010, 2014), leading Spain to the 2010 title while receiving the Silver Shoe for scoring the second most goals in the tournament. The striker’s 41 goals since 2015 are tied for the best in MLS over that span.
Wright-Phillips collected his second Golden Boot after scoring 24 goals this season, becoming the first player in MLS history to record two seasons with 20-plus goals scored. The Englishman’s 68 goals scored since 2014 set a league record for the most goals over any three-year span. Behind Wright-Phillips, the Red Bulls finished the regular season with the best record in the Eastern Conference for the second consecutive season. This is his second selection to the MLS Best XI.
Kljestan made history with 20 assists this season, the second most in a single season in league history and the top mark since the second assist rule was changed in 2002. In addition to his league-leading assist numbers, Kljestan added six goals in helping the Red Bulls to the top of the Eastern Conference regular season standings. Kljestan’s tremendous performance this season pushed him back into the fray for the US national team, where he scored two goals and added two assists in five caps while playing in important 2018 World Cup Qualifiers.