2016 MLS Best XI revealed: Who was the best in 2016?

MLS' brightest stars highlighted the 2016 MLS Best XI announced on Monday by Major League Soccer, with several of the league's most dangerous attackers headlining the rundown of the season's top performers.

MLS players, club executives and media members voted one goalkeeper, three defenders, four midfielders and three forwards to the Best XI (this is the fourth consecutive season voting has resulted in a 3-4-3 formation). Only two holdovers return from the 2015 group: FC Dallas center back Matt Hedges and Toronto FC striker Sebastian Giovinco. Meanwhile, seven of the players named to the 2016 Best XI are first-time selections.

FC Dallas, the LA Galaxy and the New York Red Bulls are the league's most heavily-represented teams in the Best XI, with two players getting the nod from each of those squads.

2016 MLS Best XI

Goalkeeper: Andre Blake
Defenders: Matt Hedges; Axel Sjoberg; Jelle Van Damme
Midfielders: Mauro Diaz; Giovani dos Santos; Sacha Kljestan; Ignacio Piatti
Forwards: Sebastian Giovinco; Bradley Wright-Phillips; David Villa

<h2 style="margin:0;">Andre Blake</h2><p style="margin:8px 0;font-weight:bold;">Goalkeeper - Philadelphia Union</p> A Generation adidas signing, and the first goalkeeper ever to be taken with the top pick in the history of MLS SuperDraft, Blake emerged in his first full season as a starter to guide the Union to its second ever postseason appearance and first since 2011. Blake has starred for both club and country, starting all three Copa America Centenario matches for his native Jamaica with 22 career caps while registering 32 starts between the posts for Philadelphia en route to his first AT&amp;T All-Star and MLS Best XI selections this season.
<h2 style="margin:0;">Axel Sjoberg</h2><p style="margin:8px 0;font-weight:bold;">Defender - Colorado Rapids</p> The tallest player in MLS at 6'7", Sjoberg emerged as a physically imposing force for a dominant Colorado Rapids defense that allowed a league-low 32 goals this season. The 25-year-old Sjoberg ranked second in the league with 162 clearances and led Colorado to an undefeated home record, only the fifth team in MLS history to do so. Behind a stellar defense, Colorado advanced to the Western Conference Championship, with Sjoberg playing every minute of postseason play.
<h2 style="margin:0;">Matt Hedges</h2><p style="margin:8px 0;font-weight:bold;">Defender - FC Dallas</p> The 2016 MLS Defender of the Year winner led Dallas to a historic double with a US Open Cup and Supporters' Shield title this season. Hedges receives his second consecutive Best XI selection as the 25-year-old led Dallas to back-to-back 60-plus point seasons, the first club in MLS history to accomplish the feat. The No. 11 pick in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft, Hedges has played over 2,000 minutes in each of his five seasons with FC Dallas.
<h2 style="margin:0;">Jelle Van Damme</h2><p style="margin:8px 0;font-weight:bold;">Defender - LA Galaxy</p> In his first season in MLS, the versatile defender registered four assists over his 28 starts for the Galaxy, leading the club to a league-best eighth consecutive postseason appearance. A finalist for the 2016 MLS Defender of the Year award, Van Damme ranked third in the league with 27 blocked shots while finishing in the top 10 with 95 interceptions this season. The Belgian native has over 30 career caps for his national team including appearances in UEFA Euro and World Cup qualifiers.
<h2 style="margin:0;">Mauro Diaz</h2><p style="margin:8px 0;font-weight:bold;">Midfielder - FC Dallas</p> One of the most creative playmakers in the league, Diaz has flourished with Dallas, leading the team to US Open Cup and Supporters' Shield titles in 2016. Diaz helped FCD become the first franchise in MLS history to record consecutive 60-plus point seasons behind a team-leading 13 assists, topping his previous career best of 10 set in 2015. The 25-year-old Argentine is one of only five players league wide to record double-digit assist totals in each of the past two seasons.
<h2 style="margin:0;">Giovani dos Santos</h2><p style="margin:8px 0;font-weight:bold;">Midfielder - LA Galaxy</p> In his second season with the Galaxy, dos Santos was one of two MLS players to register double-digit goals (14) and assists (12) this season, ranking in the top 10 in both categories. After starring in MLS this season, dos Santos earned his first call to represent the Mexican national team in over a year with a pair of appearances in 2018 World Cup Qualifiers, adding to an already decorated international career which includes a 2012 Olympic gold medal and three Gold Cup titles (2009, 2011, 2015).
<h2 style="margin:0;">Sacha Kljestan</h2><p style="margin:8px 0;font-weight:bold;">Midfielder - New York Red Bulls</p> 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.
<h2 style="margin:0;">Ignacio Piatti</h2><p style="margin:8px 0;font-weight:bold;">Midfielder - Montreal Impact</p> The Argentine playmaker ranked third in the league with a career-best 17 goals this season, eight more than his previous season-high in 2015. Piatti's standout season brought Montreal to their second consecutive postseason appearance. The third Designated Player signing in club history, Piatti also helped Montreal become the first Canadian club to advance to the MLS Cup Playoffs Conference Championships with four goals and two assists in five postseason matches.
<h2 style="margin:0;">Sebastian Giovinco</h2><p style="margin:8px 0;font-weight:bold;">Forward- Toronto FC</p> In his second season in MLS, the 2015 Landon Donovan MLS MVP had another tremendous campaign, leading the league in combined goals (17) and assists (15) for a second straight year. Toronto's all-time leading goal scorer, Giovinco was integral in the postseason, scoring four goals and adding four assists in five playoff games to help TFC become the first Canadian team to advance to MLS Cup. While leading Toronto to their highest point total in franchise history, Giovinco garnered his second consecutive selection to the AT&amp;T All-Star Team and MLS Best XI squad.
<h2 style="margin:0;">Bradley Wright-Phillips</h2><p style="margin:8px 0;font-weight:bold;">Forward - New York Red Bulls</p> 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.
<h2 style="margin:0;">David Villa</h2><p style="margin:8px 0;font-weight:bold;">Forward - New York City FC</p> 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.