Jon Busch, Chicago Fire: The Queens
native put up his best season as a pro in route to being named Major
League Soccer’s Goalkeeper of the Year for 2008. Busch posted ten clean
sheets and a 1.10 goals against average for the season, leading a
stingy defense that carried Chicago to the Eastern Conference final.
Gonzalo Segares, Chicago Fire: On
a back line that included defender of the year candidate Bakary Soumare
and Colombian tough man Wilman Conde, Segares was given the task of
patrolling the left flank, and he did it well. In a conference where
wing play from young, speedy, midfielders was a staple all year,
Segares controlled his half of the pitch as well as any outside back in
Chad Marshall, Columbus Crew: Simply put, Chad Marshall was the best defender in America in 2008. He controlled the box for Columbus in the air and on the ground. Marshall also added to the Columbus effort going forward, scoring important goals in the Eastern Conference final and the MLS Cup final. It was good to see Marshall resign with Columbus despite receiving interest from European clubs.
Jimmy Conrad, Kansas City Wizards: Kansas City
captain Jimmy Conrad turned in another great year and cemented himself
as one of the five best defenders in Major League Soccer. Conrad played
every minute of every regular season match and added six goals,
including one game winner, in the Wizard’s run to the playoffs.
Chris Albright, New England Revolution: Chris
Albright has long been one of the best right backs in MLS. In 2008 the
29-year-old was asked to play in a three man back line with New England.
Despite the new role, Albright continued to prove his talent as a
player by reshaping his game to fit into Steve Nicol’s system. Albright
failed to get forward as much in ’08 as in previous years, but he held
down his spot at the back as well as any player in the league. Big,
fast, and incredibly skilled on the ball, the Philadelphia-native is still the gold standard at right back in MLS.
Robbie Rodgers, Columbus Crew: The
21-year-old Columbus Crew midfielder caused problems for opposing
defenses all year. His runs up the left sideline, and equally dangerous
slashing drives towards the net, gave the MLS champions a weapon on the
flank that few in the league could match. Rodgers scored six goals and
added three assists during the season, but his true value was in
relieving pressure off of league MVP Guillermo Barros Schelotto, and
veteran striker Alejandro Moreno.
Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Columbus Crew: With
7 goals and 19 assists in the regular season, Schelotto was a deserving
winner of the MLS’s most valuable player award. The Argentine capped
his amazing season with a three assists night in the MLS Cup final.
Rarely has MLS had a player create as many quality opportunities for
his team as Schelotto did in ’08.
Shalrie Joseph, New England Revolution: The big Grenadian continued to dominate the midfield for New England
throughout 2008. In a season marred by injuries, Joseph was left to
shoulder even more of the load for the Revolution than usual, and he
did so quite well. Joseph is well known as a great ball winner with an
incredible work-rate. In ’08 the 30-year-old was also relied on to key
the attack, something he had not done in years past. His stat line,
only one goal and one assist, is deceiving. Rarely did New England move the ball into the attacking third without Joseph.
Sacha Kljestan, Chivas USA:
Kljestan opened a few eyes during the 2008 season with his improved
touch and attacking ability. The 23-year-old’s creative play and slick
passing make him a versatile player that can play anywhere across the
midfield. As a member of the U.S. Olympic team, the California
native missed a large portion of the MLS season, but still managed to
score five goals and add seven assists in only 21 regular season
Juan Pablo Angel, New York Red Bulls:
The 33-year-old Colombian scored 14 goals and added 3 assists in 2008
despite playing for a team that offered little support going forward.
Angel led an inspired playoff runs, scoring twice against Houston in New York’s
ousting of the defending champs, and being well involved in the Dave
van den Bergh goal that clinched a place in the finals for the Red
Landon Donovan, LA Galaxy: It’s
hard to argue with Landon Donovan’s stat line in 2008. The MLS golden
boot winner scored 20 goals in 25 matches and added nine assists.
Despite not making the playoffs, it can’t be said that Donovan didn’t
have a great season in L.A. He was the best striker in the league throughout the year.
Goalkeepers: Pat Onstad, Houston Dynamo. William Hesmer, Columbus Crew.
Defenders: Micheal Parkhurst, New England Revolution. Bakary Soumare and Wilman Conde, Chicago Fire. Wade Barrett and Bobby Boswell, Houston Dynamo.
Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman, Real Salt Lake. Ricardo Clark, Houston Dynamo. Justin Mapp, Chicago Fire. Eddie Gaven, Columbus Crew. Steve Ralston, New England Revolution.
Forwards: Kenny Cooper, F.C. Dallas. Brian Ching, Houston Dynamo. Jaime Moreno, D.C. United.
Allen Ramsey, Goal.com USA.