For the most part, the media did our job.
There’s not a great deal that’s terribly off with the 176 players (eight per club) selected by the media for the 2017 MLS All-Star ballot released this week (download the official MLS app to vote for the Fan XI), but there were still a handful of players I felt deserved to be honored with a nomination.
Unless they're tabbed as Commissioner picks, below are 10 players who I felt could have been helpful to MLS All-Star head coach Veljko Paunovic, who will ultimately have to select his match-day roster from the list of 176 players on the ballot. (Go here for information about how to vote on the MLS mobile app.)
But it might not be that surprising these 10 snubs didn't earn the media vote after all: If there's one thing these guys have in common, it’s that much of the great work they do can go unnoticed.
10. FW Alphonso Davies (Vancouver Whitecaps / 10GP)
This omission is the most understandable: Davies has been coming off the bench in league play (five of his 10 appearances have come as a sub). One could easily argue there are more important players on the Vancouver roster. Still, it’s surprising that reporters weren’t tempted to vote him in. Alongside Cristian Techera, the 16-year-old is arguably the most exciting player for the Whitecaps in attack.
9. DF Waylon Francis (Crew SC / 6GP)
On this one you might be wondering: "What is he possibly thinking wanting to add a defender from the second leakiest team in the league (24 goals conceded)?" But Waylon Francis should still be the eighth guy in (I'd argue over Ethan Finlay). The Costa Rican, who didn’t get to participate in the entire preseason, has performed well (especially going forward), winning the majority of recent starts at left back ahead of new signing Jukka Raitala.
8. MF Marco Donadel (Montreal Impact / 7GP, 1g, 1a)
When the Impact are really ticking offensively, Donadel’s probably having a good game. The Italian is one of the few players on the Impact who can distribute, with a certain regularity, a very wide range of passes, especially in more delicate areas of the field.
Although tactically astute, he’s sometimes slow to arrive in position, but there’s nothing like a quick, accurate pass to help speed up play. In a three-man central midfield, he's shown himself to be very effective.
7. FW Will Bruin (Seattle Sounders / 11GP, 3g)
The 27-year-old has worked very hard in the center forward position and he's gone from being on the bench to pushing Jordan Morris to a wide position. In what’s been a frustrating start to the season for the champions, especially from an attacking standpoint, Bruin’s movement and industry ought to be recognized. He’s got three goals, and could have more with better service.
6. DF Chris Duvall (Montreal Impact / 11GP, 1a)
In a season during which the Impact have struggled to be consistent, right back Chris Duvall might be the most reliable player they have. He’s not as technical as an Ambroise Oyongo, who occupies the other fullback position, but he’s been steadier. He gets forward pretty well, too, and (here’s a bonus) he can sometimes channel his inner Cafu, going full speed down the right channel.
5. DF Sheanon Williams (Vancouver Whitecaps / 10GP, 2a)
One thing the Whitecaps continue to do well is defend and Williams has played an important role, offering very solid play at right back. The Whitecaps missed Steven Beitashour last year, but they don't anymore.
4. DF Hernán Grana (FC Dallas / 9GP, 2a)
FC Dallas are one of those teams—like Toronto FC—where it’s hard to pick eight players and not feel like you’ve left a good one out. The Argentine is one of the better right backs in the league. Maybe not the guy you want at the back post when a cross is delivered from the opposite side and the back four has shifted over, but the experienced defender is comfortable on the ball and reads the game well.
3. MF Marco Delgado (Toronto FC / 8GP, 1a)
There are so many players to choose from in Toronto and that depth has been a big reason the Reds have been so successful this season. But Delgado has been especially good, particularly in the last month. With a wide range of qualities on both sides of the ball (which is not very common), the 22-year-old has proven a critical player in central midfield alongside Michael Bradley and Victor Vazquez.
2. MF Joao Pedro (LA Galaxy / 12GP, 1g)
One reason the Galaxy have started to win games again is because we're starting to see a lot more of what Joao Pedro has to offer in central midfield. Restricted to a more defensive role next to Jermaine Jones, the 24-year-old wasn’t able to express himself fully in the first weeks of the season. But with Jones out injured, things have been much better for Joao Pedro. As far as box-to-box midfielders go in MLS, you won’t find many better.
1. MF Carlos Carmona (Atlanta United / 11GP, 1g)
I think there’s a pretty good chance that Paunovic will be disappointed to not see the Atlanta maestro–yes I said maestro!–available for selection. When Real Madrid come pressing for the ball in defensive transition—which they’ve actually been doing a lot of under head coach Zinedine Zidane—I think you're going to want a player like Carmona on the field. He’s one of the best passers in the league, especially in higher risk areas, and knows how to move and make himself available. He'd have been a must-have.