I’m not encouraging you to stuff the ballot box for the 2021 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target. I am simply communicating the facts. There are only eight days to vote this year. It’s a sprint, and you can vote once per day. Therefore, you can, in theory, vote up to eight times.
Reminder that voting ends 11:59 PM Pacific Time on Wednesday, July 21.
Again, this is a thought experiment. Do what you want.
I’m just saying you could do that, or you could vote once and call it good. Follow your conscience. Either way, the player and media voting blocs ought to even things out should, let’s just say, folks in a few select southern cities or in a place that rhymes with Tea Rattle get particularly enthusiastic about their ability to cast multiple ballots.
Anyway, go vote, and when you do make your selections, you’ll notice something glorious. You’re not voting for an amorphous, never-gonna-see-the-field-in-real-life XI. You’ve got to put together something semi-coherent, a lineup that includes outside backs and a defensive midfielder.
Here’s my first (of eight? Jk jk jk) ballot. I’m going to hold off on my media ballot until after Week 13, so this is more “gut reaction” than “I spent a full day researching this and stand behind it completely.” Feel free to argue with me on Twitter about my selections. My wife still can’t believe I call that “work.” Know, however, that I had three guiding principles:
- Quality and consistency in MLS matter most
- Entertainment value is secondary, but clearly important
- Maximum three players from any given team (AKA the “only three Sounders” rule)
- And this might be the most important, my mission is to snub your club/favorite player
I judge goalkeepers 30 percent on eye test and 70 percent on advanced analytics. I can’t see everything, and I wouldn’t trust my eyes if I did. Both say Stuver has been the league’s top ‘keeper so far. I’m not saying he’s the “best” at his position. I am saying that his performances have been the best. I’d expect two of Matt Turner, Andre Blake, Jonathan Bond and mayyyyyyyybe Pedro Gallese to round out the group
With the attackers in this XI, I want an elite crosser of the ball. Lovitz is absolutely that. I am open to arguments here.
Best defensive record in the league. The busiest passer in the league, by some margin (and he breaks lines, too). Fontas isn’t just a skill centerback, he’s showing the timing and aggression in the tackle to be shutdown, too. Turns out, he was a bust … until he wasn’t. It took two-and-a-half years, but the 31-year-old Spaniard finally found fitness and form. He absolutely deserves the plaudits.
Hate me for it, but I’m giving younger brother the shine this time around. This is one of the positions with many candidates, but no out-and-out choice. Have an opinion? Voice it, and vote it.
How is it possible to miss Nico Lodeiro and still be unbeaten and, often, dominant? Well, you have another Best XI midfielder. The Brazilian is among the league leaders in, well, basically anything you might want a defensive midfielder to do. All from Second Spectrum…
- Passes – 4th
- Touches – 6th
- Interceptions – 2nd
- Tackles – 14th
- Pressures – 1st
Gamer. Entertainer. Scorer of goals in every way possible. I’m rewarding one of the most underappreciated players in the league on a team that’s above the playoff line when most/everyone (wrongly) figured they’d be competing for spoons this year.
I’m not sure we’ve properly communicated how absurd Gil’s season as a chance creator has been, though a league-leading 10 assists (Fabio is second with six) basically tell the story. These numbers just scratch the surface.
From Second Spectrum…
- 74 first shot assists … Brooks Lennon is second with 43
From American Soccer Analysis’ models…
- 68 key passes … Brooks Lennon is second with 35
- 6.63 xAssists … Julian Gressel is in second with 3.67
The MVP Narrative says Chicharito, but the numbers and the impact say Gil. He was my first field player, straight into the team.
Shooters shoot. Salloi is the most productive attacker on the best attacking team in the league. Is Nani a snub here? Yes, of course, but he'll make this team, one way or another. But just imagine the space Salloi will have in this game cutting in on that right foot. Imagine the teasing, whipped-in balls he’s going to play to these next two…
Absolute shark. Everything he does revolves around one thing: putting the ball in the back of the net. I know Chicharito is level with him in the Golden Boot presented by Audi race – and Josef Martinez is not yet Josef Martinez – but nobody is more relentless than Ruidiaz. His three big chances a game are coming hell or high water, and odds are at least one is going to find the back of the net. With the Sounders, it all just feels inevitable at this point.
There is no world in which Chicharito, fit and available, doesn’t start this game. That’s just facts.