MLS Players of the Decade: a team-by-team guide | Greg Seltzer

Josef Martinez - Atlanta United - Kneeling pose

Major League Soccer clubs hand out their own team accolades at the end of each year, but with the decade soon to pass, we've decided to give them a little help in the honors department.

Some picks were much easier than others, but we've managed to come up with our own player of the 2010s award for each MLS team. Without further adieu, here are the choices.

Atlanta United: Josef Martinez

For a club only three years old, 88 goals in 100 competitive matches, a regular season/MLS Cup MVP double and three Best XI nods is more than enough to earn this title. In addition to being more than anyone expected on the field, Martinez is also the emotional center of Atlanta United.

Chicago Fire FC: Sean Johnson

This was among the toughest calls. Not only did the Fire manage just two playoff berths during the decade, but many of their top performers over the last 10 seasons didn't stick around for long. As such, we'll go with Johnson, who averaged over three saves per game while racking up 36 clean sheets behind an often-suspect back line.

Colorado Rapids: Drew Moor

It was nearly as difficult to tab the Rapids man of the decade for the same reasons — heck, 2010 championship hero Conor Casey got serious consideration despite working only 63 games in burgundy during the teens. In the end, another key man from Colorado's MLS Cup-winning side got the salute. Moor organized the defense for 50 shutouts in his 186 games across all competitions.  

Columbus Crew SC: Federico Higuain

In about seven seasons' worth of games, the playmaker logged 59 goals and 69 helpers across all competitions to lead the Crew in both categories over the decade. Higuain also led them to the 2015 MLS Cup, and did it all in style.

D.C. United: Bill Hamid

MLS Players of the Decade: a team-by-team guide | Greg Seltzer -

Bill Hamid | USA Today Sports Images

The netminder played at least a part in all 10 D.C. United seasons during the decade, racking up 68 shutouts and a cumulative goals against-expected goals against (GA-xGA) that bested all other goalkeepers by a mile. Hamid also starred in the 2013 U.S. Open Cup final, notching six saves to swipe the club's lone trophy of the decade.

FC Cincinnati: Allan Cruz

With but one season of MLS action under their belts, this pick is basically a 2019 MVP citation. We gave Cruz a narrow nod over Emmanuel Ledesma for his consistent play, despite so often being used out of position. The Costa Rica international easily led the team with seven run-of-play goals and also paced the side in tackles.

FC Dallas: Matt Hedges

Ever since joining as the 11th overall pick in the 2012 SuperDraft, Hedges has been a rock at the back for the Frisco bunch. He holds the team record with 278 total appearances, and has a Defender of the Year award and consecutive Best XI accolades to his credit. The center back has even come up with some big goals, including important strikes in the semifinal and final during FC Dallas' run to the 2016 Open Cup title.

Houston Dynamo: Brad Davis

With all due respect to Alberth Elis and Mauro Manotas, this honorary sash has to go to Davis. In addition to piling up 30 goals and 76 helpers across his six seasons in Houston during the decade, Davis also finished second in the 2011 MVP voting and helped the teams reach back-to-back MLS Cups. It's quite fair for Dynamo fans to still be wondering how the 2011 title match might have turned out differently had Davis not been injured in the Eastern Conference final.  

LAFC: Carlos Vela

MLS Players of the Decade: a team-by-team guide | Greg Seltzer -

Carlos Vela | USA Today Sports Images

It's only been two years, but the Mexico dazzler is the undisputed face of LAFC. Thanks to a bawdy 1.35 goals + assists per 90 minutes (G+A/90) in league action, Vela has already bagged two Best XI nods, an MVP trophy and his record-setting Golden Boot haul of 34 goals from the club's 2019 Supporters Shield season (and that was with him missing three games!).

LA Galaxy: Robbie Keane

Sorting through the Galaxy's stars of the decade for a pick of the bunch was no automatic feat, but in the end it had to be the Ireland legend. Keane's arrival crystallized the club's Beckham era into a dynasty, and not just because of his impressive 1.02 G+A/90 output. The veteran was a spark plug, on and off the field, for a team that hogged three MLS Cup titles and two Supporters' Shields in a four-year span.  

Montreal Impact: Ignacio Piatti

One of the most prolific wingers to ever grace MLS, the Nacho man has notched 79 goals and 43 helpers in 163 total contests for the Impact. Piatti was named Montreal's team MVP four straight seasons from 2015-18, and then led the club to their first Canadian Championship in five years during an injury-shortened 2019 campaign.

Minnesota United: Darwin Quintero

Though he's no slam-dunk choice, there's no escaping the fact that the veteran playmaker made the Loons exciting before they were good. Quintero put up 21 goals and as many assists in two league seasons for Minnesota, quite often in scintillating fashion, and was the U.S. Open Cup Player of the Tournament to spark the team's 2019 runners-up finish.  

New England Revolution: Lee Nguyen

The Revs call was nearly a toss-up, but we gave Nguyen the edge over Diego Fagundez by virtue of his monster 2014 campaign. That year, the midfielder scored 18 times to finish third in the MVP voting, then starred in their postseason run to MLS Cup. In all, Nguyen chalked up 51 goals and 53 assists in 199 league outings for New England.

New York City FC: David Villa

Signed before the club even started play, El Guaje proved to be a fitting first NYCFC superstar. In addition to averaging 20 goals and 6.5 helpers per season in the Bronx, Villa was a very visible club ambassador in the community. He took home the 2016 MVP award, and then finished as runner-up the following year.

New York Red Bulls: Bradley Wright-Phillips

Like their Big Apple rivals, a prolific striker ruled their decade. Wright-Phillips was second among all MLS players during the '10s in goals (117) and winners (33), and tied for first in playoff strikes (nine). The Red Bulls star also netted a pair of Golden Boot/Best XI doubles, and helped the Red Bulls score three Supporters' Shields.

Orlando City SC: Cyle Larin

Although his exit was rather unceremonious, there can be no denying the Canada striker's impact while he was in a Purple Lions shirt. Larin found the net 44 times in 89 Orlando City appearances, winning the 2015 Rookie of the Year award in the process.

Philadelphia Union: Alejandro Bedoya

MLS Players of the Decade: a team-by-team guide | Greg Seltzer -

Alejandro Bedoya | USA Today Sports Images

This was a tricky one. Go with the attacker who had a lot less help and carried the club early in its history (Sebastien Le Toux), or do we go with the under-heralded midfield bull who played fewer seasons, but helped teach the Union how to rise up in the MLS world? With a nudge from area product Bobby Warshaw, we picked Bedoya.

Portland Timbers: Diego Valeri

Could there be any doubt? The Rose City's favorite adopted son accounted for 87 goals and a league-best 89 assists across all competitions. On top of leading the Timbers to the 2015 MLS Cup crown, Valeri also grabbed an MVP award and three Best XI citations for himself.

Real Salt Lake: Nick Rimando

Aside from a hat trick of Save of the Year nods, Rimando somehow managed to leave the decade without individual accolades. Never mind that, as he remained a consistently foreboding presence in the RSL net. The Rio Tinto legend topped all netminders with 99 shutouts and 17 penalty stops during the decade.  

San Jose Earthquakes: Chris Wondolowski

The Earthquakes star averaged more than 15 tallies per season during this past decade, hitting double figures each year. That rampage left Wondo with a runaway best 153 goals since 2010 and the league's all-time scoring crown. I'd imagine both player and club regularly thank the stars he didn't jet off to Europe early in the decade.

Seattle Sounders FC: Nicolas Lodeiro

Welcome to arguably the hardest call to make of all. Even with a handful of Sounders aces with a fair case to be made, most observers would likely default straight to Ozzie Alonso. And I wouldn't badger anyone who did; he's entirely worthy. However, I just can't deny Lodeiro, the busy-bee midfield engine who led the team to their two MLS Cup titles, bringing Seattle to a whole new level of excellence.  

Sporting Kansas City: Matt Besler

For yet another club with a handful of solid choices, the veteran center back is our pick. Besler led all MLS defenders by contributing to 92 shutouts during the decade, which also saw him shine in four winning finals (2013 MLS Cup, plus three Open Cups). For good measure, he also earned a Defender of the Year prize and two Best XI mentions.

Toronto FC: Sebastian Giovinco

Though he only spent four season in MLS, no player hoarded more individual and team honors during the decade than the Atomic Ant. Giovinco brought countless thrills to the Big Smoke along with the 1.1 G+A/90 of league play he produced. He won the 2015 MVP award by becoming the first player to top both the goal and assists charts in the same season.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC: Kendall Waston

The Costa Rica star was the sturdy backbone of the Whitecaps back line for four-and-a-half seasons, averaging 6.8 clearances and 2.8 pass interceptions per game. Waston was named to the Best XI twice, including after a 2015 season that saw him marshal the joint-stingiest defense in MLS.