"There's Only One Zlatan": 2019 MLS Best XI
With a number of standout stars across the league, selecting the Best XI from the MLS 2019 season is a task that grows more difficult with each passing season.
That's why we opted to assemble the league's brightest stars on a 3-5-2. And just saying... The front-three alone has a combined number of 91 goals and 26 assists. HOLY ZLATAN!!!
GK: Vito Mannone (Minnesota United)
In his first season in MLS, Mannone helped a dramatic defensive turnaround for Minnesota as the club posted the third-best defensive improvement in league history, allowing 28 fewer goals in 2019 compared to 2018. Mannone finished second in the league with 129 saves and helped Minnesota qualify for the postseason for the first time in its MLS history.
CB: IKE OPARA (Minnesota United)
Opara won his second MLS Defender of the Year Award (2017, 2019) this season after guiding Minnesota United FC to its first-ever appearance in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. In Opara’s first year with the club, Minnesota posted the third biggest defensive turnaround in league history, allowing 28 fewer goals this year (43) compared to last year (71).
CB: Miles Robinson (Atlanta United)
The 22-year-old emerged as a force on the Atlanta backline, earning his first calls to the United States Men’s National Team in September and October. The No. 2 pick in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft presented by Adidas, Robinson appeared in all 34 regular season matches for Atlanta this year.
CB: Walker Zimmerman (LA Football Club)
The 26-year-old anchored an LAFC defense that allowed the fewest goals in MLS this season (37) and posted the best goal differential in league history (+48). Zimmerman has also gained playing time for the U.S. Men’s National Team since debuting in 2017, becoming a regular this season with seven caps and featuring in the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup.
CM: Eduard Atuesta (LA Football Club)
With 11 assists this season, Atuesta was among the top 15 distributors in MLS this season to go along with his three goals. The 22-year-old earned his first call to represent the Colombia U-23 National Team in August.
CM: Carles Gil (New England Revolution)
Gil was named the 2019 MLS Newcomer of the Year after finishing the season with 10 goals and 14 assists, one of four MLS players to register double-digit goals and assists this season. Previously, Gil spent time with Deportivo La Coruña in La Liga and with Aston Villa in the English Premier League.
LM: Maxi Moralez (New York City FC)
In his third MLS season, Moralez led NYCFC to its best-ever season with a club record 64 points and its first qualification to the Concacaf Champions League. The Argentine led the league with 20 assists this year, tied for second-most in MLS history and tied as the highest in the post-shootout era.
RM: Alejandro Pozuelo (Toronto FC)
The 28-year-old Spanish midfielder was one of four players in the league to record double-digit goals and assists, finishing his debut MLS season with 12 goals and 12 assists. Pozuelo helped Toronto return to the postseason as the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference, thanks to a 10-2-4 record in matches where he scored or registered an assist.
CF: Carlos Vela (LA Football Club)
Former Real Sociedad Carlos Vela led second-year side LAFC to a record-breaking season, both collectively and individually. Vela was the 2019 MLS Golden Boot presented by Audi when he set an MLS single-season record with 34 goals, to go along with 15 assists, as that combined total of goals and assists (49) is also a league record.
ST: Josef Martinez (Atlanta United)
Martínez in three MLS seasons has scored goals at a clip never seen before, already tied for 21st on the MLS all-time goalscoring list. The Venezuelan broke his own MLS record by scoring a goal in 15 consecutive matches this season, which also ties for the second-longest scoring streak in soccer since MLS began to play in 1996. Martínez tallied 27 goals and four assists in 29 games in 2019.
ST (CAPTAIN): Zlatan Ibrahimovic (LA Galaxy)
Ok, let's be real: This team could have been basically Zlatan in all the positions of the field (goalkeeper, defender, midfielder or striker) but we wanted to be impartial.
The Swedish striker propelled the LA Galaxy to the postseason thanks to his 30 goals and seven assists in 29 matches during the regular season. The 30 goals are the third-most in a single season in league history. Ibrahimovic joined LAFC’s Carlos Vela as the first two players to average more than one goal per game during a season (minimum 10 games played). But... As I said earlier: "Let's be real..."
THERE'S ONLY ONE ZLATAN!