Philadelphia Union produce a league-high four selections; Six players earn first-ever Best XI honors
NEW YORK (Wednesday, November 2, 2022) – Major League Soccer today announced the 2022 Best XI Presented by Continental Tire, a collection of elite performers from the 2022 MLS regular season and one of the most prestigious annual honors a player can receive. The Best XI – recognizing the league’s top players at each position as determined by media, MLS players, and MLS club technical staffs – features the league’s most exciting talent. Representing 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 to their first Best XI.
2022 MLS Best XI Presented by Continental Tire
Goalkeeper: Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union)
Defenders: Jakob Glesnes (Philadelphia Union), Kai Wagner (Philadelphia Union), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC)
Midfielders: Luciano Acosta (FC Cincinnati), Sebastián Driussi (Austin FC), Dániel Gazdag (Philadelphia Union), Hany Mukhtar (Nashville SC)
Forwards: Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas), Brandon Vázquez (FC Cincinnati), Carlos Vela (LAFC)
- Download 2022 MLS Best XI Presented by Continental Tire media assets HERE.
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 Union became the second club in MLS history club to have a goalkeeper, two defenders, and one midfielder in the Best XI, joining Sporting Kansas City in 2012.
Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Andre Blake was selected to the Best XI for the third time in his career, the most by a goalkeeper in MLS history. Blake allowed just 0.76 goals per game in 2022, marking the best average by a goalkeeper who played in all 34 games of a single season. Additionally, his 15 shutouts tied Sporting Kansas City’s Jimmy Nielsen in 2012 for the second most in a season in league history.
Blake is joined by two of his backline teammates in Jakob Glesnes and Kai Wagner, both of whom earned MLS Best XI selections for the first time in their careers. Glesnes was the only outfield player in MLS this season to start and play every single minute (3,060) and did so for a defense that allowed just 0.76 goals per game, which was the second-best mark in a season in league history. Wagner was impressive in both defense and attack, as he set the MLS single-season record for assists by a defender, providing 15 in 2022.
The final defender in the Best XI is Nashville SC’s Walker Zimmerman, who became the fifth player 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 first defender in MLS history to do so after leading a Nashville back line that conceded the fourth-fewest goals (41) in 2022.
Zimmerman’s teammate Hany Mukhtar continues to receive accolades for his stellar 2022 season, earning his second consecutive MLS Best XI appearance after winning the Landon Donovan MLS Most Valuable Player and the 2022 MLS Golden Boot presented by Audi. Mukhtar led the league with 23 goals and added 11 assists and the German’s 34 goal contributions were the most in MLS and two more than the next closest player, Philadelphia Union midfielder Dániel Gazdag, who earned his first career Best XI selection. Mukhtar and Gazdag became the fifth and sixth players in league history to total at least 20 goals and 10 assists in a season.
Two Argentine playmakers – Austin FC’s Sebastián Driussi and FC Cincinnati’s Luciano Acosta – round out the final spots in the midfield of the Best XI. Driussi is the first player in Austin history to be named to the Best XI after finishing with 22 goals and seven assists, helping the Verde earn their first-ever postseason appearance. Acosta received the second Best XI selection of his career (2018 with D.C. United) by becoming the 10th player in league history to produce at least 19 assists in a season. He is just the sixth midfielder in MLS history to make a Best XI team with two different clubs.
Acosta joins his teammate Brandon Vázquez as the first two players in FC Cincinnati history to be named to the Best XI. Vázquez’ career-high 18 goals and eight assists in 2022 helped him earn one of the three forward positions alongside FC Dallas’ Jesús Ferreira and LAFC’s Carlos Vela. Ferreira, also named the 2022 MLS Young Player of the Year, is the fourth player since 2010 to be selected to the Best XI at 21 years or younger after scoring 18 goals this season. Carlos Vela completes the forward group and has been named to his third Best XI in the past five years. Vela is one of five active MLS players to earn three Best XI selections and the first in LAFC history.
2022 MLS Best XI Presented by Continental Tire
Andre Blake | Goalkeeper | Philadelphia Union | Nationality: Jamaica | Born: November 21, 1990 | 3rd Selection
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.
Jakob Glesnes | Defender | Philadelphia Union | Nationality: Norway | March 25, 1994 | 1st Selection
The MLS Defender of the Year, Glesnes joins teammate 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 defender has started 73 consecutive games for Philadelphia since October 19, 2020, which is the longest active streak in the league. He led the Union with 57 interceptions in 2022, good for the fifth most in MLS. Glesnes is the first defender to start all 34 games and be named to the Best XI since D.C. United’s Bobby Boswell in 2014.
Kai Wagner | Defender | Philadelphia Union | Nationality: Germany | Born: February 15, 1997 | 1st Selection
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. Earlier this season, Wagner became the first outfield player in Philadelphia history to be selected to consecutive All-Star games.
Walker Zimmerman | Defender | Nashville SC | Nationality: United States | Born: May 19, 1993 | 4th Selection
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.
Luciano Acosta | Midfielder | FC Cincinnati | Nationality: Argentina | Born: May 31, 1994 | 2nd Selection
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 and 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. Since the start of 2021, his 46 goal contributions (17 goals, 29 assists) are the second most in MLS behind only fellow Best XI member Hany Mukhtar (62). Acosta 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.
Sebastián Driussi | Midfielder | Austin FC | Nationality: Argentina | Born: February 9, 1996 | 1st Selection
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 – August 31) with at least a goal or an assist, which tied for the third longest streak in MLS history. He and Acosta become the fifth Argentine duo to make an MLS Best XI team.
Dániel Gazdag | Midfielder | Philadelphia Union | Nationality: Hungary | Born: March 2, 1996 | 1st Selection
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. He joins the Chicago Fire’s Nemanja Nikolić (2017) as the only players from Hungary to earn MLS Best XI honors.
Hany Mukhtar | Midfielder | Nashville SC | Nationality: Germany | Born: October 3, 1998 | 2nd Selection
After winning both the 2022 Landon Donovan MLS Most Valuable Player 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 midfielder’s sensational season helped Nashville finish fifth in the Western Conference and earn a berth in the Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs.
Jesús Ferreira | Forward | FC Dallas | Nationality: United States | Born: December 24, 2000 | 1st Selection
The 2022 MLS Young Player of the Year, Ferreira tied the club’s single-season record with 18 goals, alongside former MLS Best XI members Kenny Cooper (18 in 2008) and Jason Kreis (18 in 1999). His 18 goals this season were 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 Most Valuable Player with Dallas, become the first father-son duo to each be named to MLS Best XI teams. The U.S. Men’s National Team forward is the fourth player since 2010 to be selected to the Best XI while 21 years or younger.
Brandon Vázquez | Forward | FC Cincinnati | Nationality: United States | Born: October 14, 1998 | 1st Selection
Vázquez earns his first career MLS Best XI selection after producing a career-high 18 goals and eight assists in 2022. 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.
Carlos Vela | Forward | Los Angeles Football Club | Nationality: Mexico | Born: March 1, 1989 | 3rd Selection
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.
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