Feature: MLS Team of The Season 2008

Goal.com USA’s Allen Ramsey looks back on Major League Soccer’s team of the season for 2008.
Goalkeeper:

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.

Defenders:

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 the league.

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.

Midfielders:

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 starts.

Forwards:

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 Bulls.

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.

Honourable Mentions:

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.