The best of the best. Major League Soccer on Wednesday unveiled the 2022 MLS Best XI presented by Continental Tire, recognizing the league’s top players at each position.
The Best XI – determined by media, MLS players, and MLS club technical staffs – represents seven nations and six clubs, all of which qualified for the Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs. This group of 11 stars features six players who were selected for their first Best XI.
After producing the second-best goal differential (+46) in MLS history, the Philadelphia Union placed four players on the Best XI roster, which is tied for the second most in league history (D.C. United: 1997, 2006; Chicago Fire FC: 1998, 2003; LA Galaxy: 2010, 2011; New England Revolution: 2021) behind only the Miami Fusion’s five in 2001.
The 2022 MLS Young Player of the Year, Ferreira tied FC Dallas' single-season record with 18 goals, the third most by a player prior to turning 22 years old – behind only Stern John (26 in 1998) and Mamadou Diallo (22 in 2000). Ferreira and his father David, the 2010 MLS MVP with Dallas, become the first father-son duo to each be named to MLS Best XI teams. The US men’s national team forward is the fourth player since 2010 to be selected to the Best XI while 21 years or younger.
Vázquez earns his first career MLS Best XI selection after producing a career-high 18 goals and eight assists in 2022, a true breakout campaign. He tied for the fourth most goals in 2022, joining his teammate Brenner (18) in jointly setting an FC Cincinnati club record. Vázquez (26) and fellow Best XI selection Luciano Acosta (29) became the first pair of teammates with at least 25 goal contributions in a single season since Atlanta United’s Josef Martínez (37) and Miguel Almirón (26) in 2018.
After leading LAFC to the 2022 MLS Supporters’ Shield, Vela has earned his third Best XI selection in the past five years. Vela produced 12 goals and 12 assists in 2022, which was his third season with at least double-digit goals and assists. Additionally, his 12 helpers and 68 key passes were both team highs for an LAFC squad that tied for the third-most wins (21) in a season since 2000. Vela is one of just five active MLS players to earn three Best XI selections and is the only Mexican in MLS history to accomplish this feat.
Acosta joins teammate Brandon Vázquez as the first two players in Cincinnati history to be selected to the Best XI. The midfielder, who pulled the strings for the Orange & Blue, totaled 19 assists in 2022, which led MLS and were tied for the fourth most in a season in league history. Acosta also added 10 goals, just the second time in his career he has done so in a season. He is just the sixth midfielder in history to make the Best XI team with two different clubs, after doing so with D.C. United in 2018.
Driussi becomes the first Austin FC player to earn an MLS Best XI selection after producing 22 goals and seven assists in his second MLS campaign. The dynamic Argentine finished tied for the second-most goals in the league after leading Austin to their first-ever Audi MLS Cup Playoffs berth and the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. Driussi’s remarkable season included a stretch of 11 games (July 4 to Aug. 31) with at least a goal or an assist, which tied for the third-longest streak in MLS history.
Gazdag earns his first Best XI selection after producing a club-record 32 goal contributions (22 goals, 10 assists) in the regular season. The Hungarian international became the sixth player in MLS history with at least 20 goals and 10 assists in a single season. Of Gazdag’s 61 shots in 2022, he scored on 22 of them for a 36.1% conversion rate – the highest by an MLS player with at least 10 goals in a season since New York City FC’s Frank Lampard (36.4%) in 2016.
After winning both the 2022 Landon Donovan MLS MVP and the 2022 MLS Golden Boot presented by Audi, Mukhtar earned his second consecutive MLS Best XI appearance. Nashville’s creative engine led the league with 23 goals and added 11 assists, with the German’s 34 goal contributions tied for the fifth most in MLS history. Mukhtar scored or assisted on an incredible 65.4% of Nashville’s goals in 2022, which was the most by a single player in MLS this season.
The MLS Defender of the Year, Glesnes joins teammates Kai Wagner and Mark McKenzie (2020) as the only Union defenders to be named to the Best XI. Glesnes was the only outfield player in MLS this season to play all 3,060 minutes, as he led a Philadelphia defense that allowed the fewest goals (26) in a 34-game regular season in MLS history. The Norwegian led the Union with 57 interceptions in 2022, good for the fifth most in MLS.
Wagner, who finished second in MLS Defender of the Year voting to his teammate Jakob Glesnes, earns his first MLS Best XI selection. At left back, Wagner became the first defender in MLS history to record 15 assists in a single season, which was tied for the second most among all players in 2022. The German started 33 games for a Union team that allowed the fewest goals (26) in a 34-game regular season in MLS history. His 55 interceptions were tied for the seventh most in the league and two behind fellow Best XI member, Glesnes.
A two-time MLS Defender of the Year, Zimmerman became the fifth player in MLS history to be named to the Best XI in four consecutive seasons, joining Chris Armas (1998-2001), Landon Donovan (2008-12), Marco Etcheverry (1996-99), and Robbie Keane (2012-15). Zimmerman is the only defender to do so after leading a Nashville back line that conceded the fourth-fewest goals (41) in 2022. His four Best XI selections are tied for the fifth most in MLS history and are the most among active players.
The Jamaican international became the first player in MLS history to earn three Allstate MLS Goalkeeper of the Year awards. Blake produced 15 clean sheets, which tied Jimmy Nielsen (2012) for the second most in a single season in MLS history. He also only allowed 0.76 goals per game, which was the second-best mark by a goalkeeper who played at least 2,000 minutes in a season (Nick Rimando, 0.67 in 2010). Blake is the first goalkeeper in league history to earn three Best XI selections, also garnering the honors in 2016 and 2020.