The All Time Teams - MLS 1996-2010
|It's a statement many people never thought would be made - MLS has now completed 15 seasons. Wow. Every 5th year seems to be an appropriate time to look back at the past, so before we enter season number 16, I'd like to take a look at the best players for each franchise through the first 15.|
More specifically, I put together all time 18-man rosters for each club. But there's one catch: each player can only be used once. That means Carlos Ruiz can't be on both Los Angeles and Dallas, Joe Cannon can't be on San Jose and Colorado, and Eddie Pope can't be on DC and New York. This rule certainly punishes some teams more than others, but I felt like it made the exercise more fun and different than your usual bunch of all time lists.
Putting together the lists, I tried very hard not to give a player to a team just because they needed somebody. Rather, I looked at the player first, determined what his first team would be, then only if they had no room for him did I go on the second one.
I took into account overall talent, longevity, awards, and fan opinions. I also looked at whether or not they were a part of the best seasons for each team, and also how many important matches they took part in.
Each roster had 18 players: 2 goalkeepers, and preferably a 6-6-4 breakdown for defenders, midfielders, and forwards, though it wasn't essential. Besides, many players played multiple positions, even though I'm only listing them at one below. I didn't feel the need to break it down further into specific positions like left back.
Now, let's begin! I did rosters for every MLS team that played from 1996-2010, so that includes Miami and Tampa Bay. With 18 teams and 18 players each, 324 are listed below (out of 1,504 who have ever played in a competitive match for an MLS team).
Let's start with the more recent teams, and work our way backwards. Stats below refer only to time spent with that club (and years played only includes years where the player made an appearance).
PHILADELPHIA UNION (2010)
There's only 25 players to work with, so it was easy to cut it down to 18. The only other player that could've been on this list is Eduardo Coudet, who made 9 starts. Many of these guys, including both goalkeepers, are already plying their trade elsewhere. I'm sure that in another decade, only one or two of the 18 would remain if I do this again.
Mapp was used here since he didn't make it on the Chicago list.
Used elsewhere (2): Califf, Moreno. Nothing controversial here.
SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC (2009-2010)
It pretty much looks like last year's team. Boss is the backup keeper over Chris Eylander, since he's still actually on the roster. Evans had greater success in Columbus, but he played a small number of games compared to the other Crew candidates. Ianni could've ended up on Houston, but there's more competition there and also he was never counted on in important Dynamo matches. Likewise, Riley has already started more playoff games for the Sounders than with the Revs.
Used elsewhere (6): Jaqua, Le Toux, Marshall, Noonan, Parke, Vagenas. The only close call is Jaqua.
TORONTO FC (2007-2010)
For a recent team without a lot of choices, TFC was actually a pretty hard roster to piece together. They've been below average each year in the league, though the last two years weren't as bad overall. You can't say they haven't had talent; just look at the used elsewhere list below.
Unfortunately for them, their best all time player is on Houston's roster. However, they do gain the services of Wynne, at least for now. I'd say another decent season for the Rapids and he moves there instead. I just don't like to put players on these teams who've only played one season (but with expansion teams, there's little choice). There's only one player from an original MLS team who made these rosters with one season (a certain Danish superstar).
Used elsewhere (13): Buddle, Casey, Conway, Cunningham, De Rosario, Dunivant, Garcia, Guevara, Marshall, Mulrooney, Nagamura, O'Brien, Ruiz. Ouch, but you can't really make a case for any of them belong here instead.
HOUSTON DYNAMO (2006-2010)
Yes, San Jose is getting the shaft once again. Their roster isn't pretty to look at compared to this. The only player who was more of an Quake IMO was Richard Mulrooney, but the Dynamo get every other important player.
There's been a revolving forward corp outside of Ching, and it was close to give them Jaqua and Moreno. In the end, Jaqua's role in the 2007 championship team gave them the edge over Seattle, while the Crew had plenty of other forwards.
Used elsewhere (5): Cerritos, Ianni, Mulrooney, Serioux, C.Wondolowski.
REAL SALT LAKE (2005-2010)
Easy roster, but lots to discuss. I know, I know, Countess is the first thing you notice. I'll explain. After Rimando, Scott Garlick is the next choice. But he's on Tampa's roster, while Seitz is with Philly. I just couldn't put Reynish and his handful of starts over a full season starter like D.J. After this year, I'd expect a change would be in order.
Second, Ballouchy? He's the 18th man, and the pickings were pretty slim. How do you feel about Jean Alexandre, Chris Brown, or Kenny Cutler instead?
Third, Kovalenko. Clearly he'll be remembered mostly as a Chicago and DC player, then an LA player, then probably a NY player with RSL as his 5th team. But I just didn't have room for him anywhere else, so he fits in here.
Used elsewhere (14): Cunningham, Dunseth, Garlick, Harris, Kamler, Klein, Kotschau, Kreis, Mathis, Pope, Seitz, Sturgis, Talley, Washington.
CD CHIVAS USA (2005-2010)
Same years as RSL, but much more difficult, with the final few selections like pulling teeth. The Chicago connection helped them results-wise, but it hurts here with Marsch/Razov/Thornton on the Fire roster.
Burpo vs Kennedy for the backup GK seemed pretty even. The team was more successful in Burpo's years, so I went with him. That's a tiebreaker I used a few times in this whole process.
Used elsewhere (10): Curtin, Guevara, Hendrickson, Hernandez, Llamosa, Marsch, Razov, Santos, Talley, Thornton.
MIAMI FUSION (1998-2001)
Along with their contraction brothers TB, the hardest team. They had one good year (2001), when the majority of that team was put together for just that season, so most of that lineup ends up on another team (when in doubt, I included the remaining 2001 contributors.) Adding to the difficulty is the fact that I didn't start following MLS until the year 2000, so my knowledge of earlier players is shaky.
Let's look at the 2001 Supporters' Shield winners. By my count, 6/11 of the starting lineup goes elsewhere: Rimando/Mastroeni/Llamosa/Marshall/Henderson/Preki. They retain McKinley/Rooney/Bishop/Chacon/Serna. I always wonder what would've happened if, say, Colorado or Dallas had been contracted instead of the Fusion? Not so much from a financial standpoint, but rather with the dispersal draft and player movement. I should make a couple of hypothetical posts in the future.
Used elsewhere (16): Beckerman, Corrales, Heaps, Henderson, Kooiman, Lassiter, Llamosa, Marshall, Mastroeni, Okaroh, Preki, Rimando, Valderrama, Vaudreuil, Williams, Wynalda. Overall, they probably lost at least half of their top 18.
TAMPA BAY MUTINY (1996-2001)
1996 was their peak, with 2000 the second best year and 1997 alright. Their roster is hurt by the losses of 1996 contributors Hejduk/Lassiter/Ralston, but they still appear much stronger than Miami.
Garlick might've ended up on several other teams - COL/DC/RSL. I know through 2007, he held the record for the most games played without reaching 100 for a single team. Pittman's a guy I included based on Soccer America's opinion - he was named in a 2000 article as part of the Mutiny's all time best xi (same for Gorter and Miami).
Used elsewhere (11): Diaz Arce, Hejduk, Hernandez, Kotschau, Lagos, Lassiter, Maessner, McKinley, Pena, Ralston, Trittschuh.
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (1996-2005, 2008-2010)
This is what's left after being hit by a Texas tornado: another team where they end up with only half of their real top 18. And not it's just the Houston move; they also lose Jeff Agoos and Landon Donovan, who accomplished more in DC and LA respectively. On the bright side, I did give them Cannon. He could've easily gone to Colorado. Even though his best season was there (2004), he was also goalkeeper of the year while in SJ, and had more games and a title with the Quakes.
But without the loss of the Houston players, Convey and Wynalda would've ended up without a team. And this team does include 7/11 starters from the 2001 MLS Cup win.
Used elsewhere (35): Agoos, Barrett, Bravo, Burns, Burpo, Busch, Califf, Ching, Chung, Clark, Cochrane, Conrad, Cronin, Davis, De Rosario, Diaz Arce, Donovan, Elliott, Garcia, Grabavoy, Graziani, Gutierrez, Kinnear, Levesque, Moreno, Mullan, R.O'Brien, Onstad, O'Rourke, Riley, Robinson, Salinas, Savarese, Vasquez, Waibel.
CHICAGO FIRE (1998-2010)
No Josh Wolff; he's with the Wizards. In another CHI-KC battle, the Fire ended up with Gutierrez. Both played more games with the team I put them on. Plus, Gutierrez won a title in Chicago, but didn't in KC. Wolff was a bit closer, because his peak probably was in Chicago, but he didn't start in the 1998 or 2000 MLS Cups, while he was KC's biggest threat in 2004. Also, I wanted any excuse to use the name Damante Razalph once again (the combination of Ralph & Razov which tore it up in 2003).
Other than Wolff, the Fire have every other player they'd want (with the possible exception of Brian McBride). Busch was another tough decision vs the Crew, but he won the GK of the year award in Chicago. I'm not quite sure Curtin should be included, but he played lots of games for plenty of good teams.
Used elsewhere (19): Barrett, Countess, Jaqua, W.Johnson, Keller, Kotschau, Kovalenko, Lagos, Ljungberg, Mapp, McBride, Okaroh, Pickens, Sanneh, Sutton, Vaudreuil, Williams, Wolff, Wynalda.
COLUMBUS CREW (1996-2010)
Two contentious decisions here: Edson Buddle and Carroll. I feel like the former is at the point where I consider him more of an LA Galaxy player. Even though he played more games for the Crew, Buddle had his best season with LA in 2010 and he also advanced to the MLS Cup with them in 2009. So they lost out on him, but they did get Carroll. I was considering him for DC's final spot, but I just felt like he was a more important part of Columbus' title run than DC's. He was equally impressive for both teams (1 MLS Cup, 2 shields), though he had more games with DC. Maybe I felt it would be harsh for both of those decisions to go against them?
Used elsewhere (29): Buddle, Busch, Caligiuri, Dougherty, Duhaney, Dunseth, Elliott, Evans, Fraser, Grabavoy, Harkes, Henderson, Hendrickson, Kotschau, Lagos, McCarty, Miglioranzi, Moreno, Ngwenya, Noonan, Oshoniyi, Paule, Pineda Chacon, Presthus, Razov, Sanneh, Walker, A.Williams, Wingert.
COLORADO RAPIDS (1996-2010)
You'd think it would be easier to do the original franchises. Definitely not in the case of the Rapids. Much of the 2010 championship roster hasn't been there for more than a year. Besides last season, the other outstanding year in Rapids history was 1999.
I think this roster could change greatly in a few years if the current team sticks together. The defense especially could a makeover; so many of their candidates were better placed on other teams. The forwards look good, but they were hurt everywhere else. I've already mentioned Cannon, but it must really sting to see Beckerman and Borchers on the RSL squad.
Used elsewhere (37): Ballouchy, Beckerman, Borchers, Burciaga, Burpo, Cann, J.Cannon, Cullen, Cunningham, Diaz Arce, Fraser, Gargan, Garlick, C.Gomez, Harris, Harvey, Kinnear, LaBrocca, Larentowicz, Marshall, Mathis, McKeon, Moor, Mullan, Noonan, Peterson, Petke, Sanneh, Serna, Shannon, Thornton, Valderrama, Vanney, Vermes, Waibel, Wingert, Wynne.
DC UNITED (1996-2010)
Emilio's the only player who didn't win an MLS Cup. One of the easiest teams to put together, though I'm already regretting Talley a bit. Is it better to pick somebody who was a part of those glory days, rather than say a Clyde Simms? Josh Gros and Brandon Prideaux could've filled that spot as well.
DC loses out on Carroll, as mentioned above, and Rimando. Other than that, they have everyone they'd want. Maybe Garlick.
Used elsewhere (20): Alavanja, Albright, Boswell, B.Carroll, Cerritos, Convey, Garlick, Hendrickson, John, Kamler, Kovalenko, Maessner, Mapp, Marsch, McKinley, Petke, Rimando, Stoichkov, Vanney, Vaudreuil.
FC DALLAS (1996-2010)
Dallas had a long period of stability from the beginning, keeping the same coach (Dave Dir) and much of the same roster for years. They were generally good every year, but only ended up with the 1997 US Open Cup to show for it. Like Colorado, most of last year's team doesn't have enough longevity as of yet.
Ruiz is a big miss. Vanney's also a possible choice, but he goes to LA too. Cunningham and Washington could've merited inclusion as well.
Used elsewhere (24): Alavanja, Cassar, Cerritos, Countess, Cunningham, Davis, Dunseth, Garlick, Harris, Hartman, Hendrickson, Hernandez, Jolley, Kubik, Lagerwey, Mulrooney, Ruiz, Serioux, Talley, Thomas, van den Bergh, Vanney, Washington, Webber.
LOS ANGELES GALAXY (1996-2010)
So many defensive options, and yes, this is a David Beckham-free zone. Let's see what happens this year. Besides Becks, there's no room for Sasha (not Sacha) Victorine or Alexi Lalas. Neither player was used for any team.
I don't see any players whom the Galaxy could've used who first went to another team. Maybe an outside chance for Clint Mathis.
Used elsewhere (31): Armas, Cannon, Ching, Dunivant, Dunseth, Findley, Franchino, Grabavoy, D.Hernandez, Jaqua, Jolley, Klein, Kovalenko, E.Lewis, Machon, Mathis, Miglioranzi, Moreno, Mullan, Nagamura, Ngwenya, Pineda Chacon, Razov, Reis, Russell, Sanneh, Serna, Sturgis, Thomas, Waibel, Welton.
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (1996-2010)
Slim pickings at defender. Maybe Lalas here? They were only average defensively in the first two seasons, though I did include Okaroh (who seemed to be a popular choice among fans).
Only four players are from the 1990s, which gives you an idea of quality for the early Revs teams. Moore was the team's brightest star; did you know he was almost traded to Miami in 1998 for Valderrama?
Used elsewhere (27): Albright, Alvarez, Baicher, Burpo, Cullen, Diallo, Diaz Arce, Dunseth, Galderisi, Gorter, Graziani, Harkes, Hurtado, Kamler, Knighton, Llamosa, McKinley, Pareja, Pineda Chacon, Ramos, Riley, Rooney, Savarese, Serna, Welton, Williams, Wynalda.
NEW YORK RED BULLS (1996-2010)
Yeah, there's been a lot of turnover in NY, which leads to so many of the 18 having short stints. But there's also been plenty of quality goalscorers, which leaves no room for Jozy Altidore. On the bad side, there's a lack of quality elsewhere. I think after 2011, Lindpere and Ream will be on their way towards inclusion.
I didn't include John Wolyniec, who can't compare to the other forwards. There wasn't any room for Duncan Oughton in Columbus or Bobby Rhine in Dallas, either.
Meola/Pope would've made this team for sure if they weren't taken already. Probably Chung as well.
Used elsewhere (42): Addo, Agoos, Albright, Balboa, Ballouchy, Buddle, Chung, Clark, Conway, Corrales, Davis, Diallo, Dooley, Duhaney, Dunivant, Gaven, Henderson, Hendrickson, D.Hernandez, J.Hernandez, Hurtado, Kamler, Kovalenko, Lagos, Meola, Moreno, O'Rourke, Paule, Pope, Quill, Razov, Robinson, Rooney, Serna, Sutton, Talley, Thornton, Vermes, A.Williams, R.Williams, Wynne, Zavagnin.
SPORTING KANSAS CITY (1996-2010)
Molnar's the lone player from an original MLS team to make one of these rosters with a single season. I think only an MVP caliber season is worthy of that honor, and he had one. Almost every starter for the 2000 MLS Cup winners is represented, with the exceptions of Henderson (COL) and Brandon Prideaux. Poor Prideaux, he already went an entire MLS career without scoring a goal and now this. I left him off here and DC, so he ends up without a team (and the most games played for any player not included on these rosters). Right call?
The Wizards, I mean Sporting, lose out on Chung and Hartman (and maybe EJ). Wow, Chung could've legitimately been on three original MLS all time teams (COL/KC/NY).
Used elsewhere (19): Burns, Chung, Gutierrez, Harris, Hartman, Henderson, Hesmer, E.Johnson, Lagerwey, Lassiter, Movsisyan, Prampin, Quill, Santel, Talley, Thomas, van den Bergh, Wahl, Zotinca.
Labels: all time teams