2023 MLS Team of the Season

It’s all over! The Columbus Crew won the MLS Cup on Saturday 9th December by defeating LAFC 2-1 at Lower.com Field. Among them were Cucho Hernandez and Yaw Yeboah but do either of those Major League Soccer champions make our 2023 MLS Team of the Season?

Goalkeeper: Stefan Frei

Best MLS players this season? More like the best MLS player every season! Stefan Frei is no stranger to goalkeeping awards by his consistent shot-stopping techniques which have helped Toronto FC and the Seattle Sounders win games.

In the 2023 season, it was no different as he achieved 14 clean sheets, the most of any keeper in Major League Soccer. Unfortunately, he couldn’t keep a clean sheet when it mattered most in the Western Conference semi-finals, but he was still statistically the best keeper throughout the competition.

Defenders: Ryan Hollingshead, Micael, Thiago Martins, Diego Palacios

Our team starts to take shape with the defensive line. Ryan Hollingshead is the right-back of choice having continually impressed since joining LAFC from FC Dallas. He was entrusted by Steve Cherundolo to win tackles and stop opposition attacks.

Just to the side of Hollingshead is the Brazilian defender, Thiago Martins. This year he was one of the few players that made a difference in the New York City FC backline as he was able to win nearly 80% of his tackles on oncoming attackers. While the franchise finished well below playoff participation, he could make a difference at a team with higher aspirations.

The other centre-back is another Brazilian, Micael. This Houston Dynamo defender had a breakout season in 2023, showing his abilities to defend and help the Texas franchise reach the MLS Cup playoffs. He even scored a rare goal in a highly contested match against LAFC to win the game 1-0.

On the left side, we’ve got Diego Palacios. The Ecuadorian has a great work rate and ethic that helped LAFC reach the MLS Cup final. His steely determination led to him having the most amount of combined successful tackles and interceptions. With him in the team, it meant that Los Angeles FC could regain the ball at ease, delighting this portion of the MLS fans.

Midfielders: Luciano Acosta, Hany Mukhtar, Hector Herrera

The middle of the park for the Franchise Sports 2023 MLS Team of the Season is certainly more attacking with an inverted triangle with one defensive midfielder and then two players pushing more up the pitch. The DM we’ve picked out is Houston Dynamo’s Hector Herrera. The Mexican international was reminiscent of Andrea Pirlo in Serie A or an in-form Leeds United Kalvin Phillips as he was able to help dictate play and offer quality leadership attributes.

Hany Mukhtar by this point is broaching on becoming one of the greatest players in MLS history. After all, the Nashville SC attacking midfielder scored 15 goals and set up another nine for his teammates. He would walk into any franchise in the league! Luciano Acosta might not be the highest profile Argentinian player in Major League Soccer but he’s played a massive part in FC Cincinnati re-inventing themselves as a top club in the US. He leads by example at TQL Stadium as he scored 17 goals and assisted another 10 while serving as the club captain.

Forwards: Denis Bouanga, Cucho, Giorgos Giakoumakis

Our forwards for our 2023 MLS Team of the Season are playing a wing-based attack system, one on either side and then a central striker. On the left wing, we’ve got LAFC’s exceptional Denis Bouanga. The Gabonese forward was frustrated last season as he had to sit on the bench for the majority of the 2022 campaign when his team won the MLS Cup. Yet he broke into the starting eleven in 2023, forcing his manager to keep playing him consistently. While his 20 goals in the regular season (and five more in the playoff run) speak for themselves, that’s not the totality of his skills. He can keep the ball and move it in high-pressure situations, extending LAFC’s attack.

On the right wing, we’ve selected MLS Cup winner, Cucho Hernandez. The Colombian displayed a sixth sense for always making the correct play. Whether to distribute the ball or fire at goal himself he played a massive role in Columbus Crew’s successes in both the regular and post-season with 25 goals and eight assists. This included his cool-as-cucumber penalty striker in the MLS Cup final to take the lead.

Every team needs that selfish kind of player who will score more times than he’ll miss. Therefore we’ve picked out Giorgos Giakoumakis from Atlanta United. The Greek striker knows how to pass but he knows he’s often got a better chance himself. Most certainly one of the best finishers in the league, he can score with his foot or head, short or long distance. The former Celtic striker was able to turn games on their head with a high propensity to score goals.

Where’s Messi?

Ok, we’ve not included Inter Miami’s Lionel Messi. While he might be the ‘best footballer’ in Major League Soccer right now, he’s hardly played in the competition.

Firstly he only signed for the club halfway through the season, where he helped the team win the Leagues Cup but seldom played in the league. Muscle injuries kept him out of games and he only scored a single MLS goal. In theory, he should be able to make a bigger impact in his first full season with Inter Miami in 2024.

#MLS #Team #Season

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