VANCOUVER Whitecaps FC captain Kendall Waston has been named to the 2017 MLS Best XI, Major League Soccer announced on Thursday. This is the second time in three years Waston has earned the honour, which recognizes the league’s top players at each position on the field as determined by media, MLS players, and MLS technical staff.
The Best XI selection caps off a banner season for the Costa Rican centre back, who was also the 2017 Whitecaps FC BMO Player of the Year and a finalist for MLS Defender of the Year.
Whitecaps FC defender Kendall Waston
- Second MLS Best XI selection in three seasons
- 2017 Whitecaps FC BMO Player of the Year
- Finished third in voting for MLS Defender of the Year
- MLS career-high four goals – second highest total among all defenders
- Led MLS with 104 headed clearances
- Four MLS Team of the Week selections
2017 MLS Best XI:
Tim Melia Goalkeeper
The 2017 Allstate MLS Goalkeeper of the Year registered a club-record 0.78 goals against average in 31 regular season starts. Melia helped SKC win the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup trophy, his second with the club after capturing the title in 2015. Named the 2015 MLS Comeback Player of the Year, Melia ranked second in the league with 10 shutouts this season.
Justin Morrow Defender Toronto FC Nationality: USA Born: October 4, 1987
The versatile defender played an integral part in Toronto FC’s historic season as he scored a career-high eight goals, while contributing to 12 clean sheets. Morrow helped Toronto become the first Canadian club to win the Supporters’ Shield while also capturing a domestic double with a 2017 Canadian Championship title. The American defender also helped the United States Men’s National Team to a first-place finish at the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Ike Opara Defender Sporting Kansas City Nationality: USA Born: February 21, 1989
The 2017 MLS Defender of the Year had a breakout year leading a Sporting defense that conceded a league-low 29 goals, the fewest allowed in a single MLS season since 2012. He also helped SKC capture their fourth Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title, tied for the most of any MLS team in the tournament’s history. Since Opara arrived at the club, SKC have qualified for five consecutive postseasons. Opara shook off consecutive injury-riddled seasons to register career highs in games played (30), games started (30) and minutes played (2,700) in the 2017 campaign.
Kendall Waston Defender
Waston emerged as a leader in his first season as captain for Whitecaps FC, registering a MLS career-high four goals while finishing third in voting for the 2017 MLS Defender of the Year. Behind Waston’s leadership, Vancouver returned to the postseason with a third-place finish in the Western Conference. On the international stage, the Costa Rica national team player scored the game-winning goal in clinching a spot for his country in the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Miguel Almirón Midfielder
The 23-year-old Almirón quickly became a must-see attraction as the playmaker at the heart of the Five Stripes’ dynamic attack, bagging nine goals and 14 assists. He helped the club to a 14-8-8 record in his 30 appearances as Atlanta earned a fourth-place Eastern Conference finish, becoming the third active expansion team in MLS to make the playoffs in its debut season. A mainstay on Paraguay’s national team after earning caps in both the 2016 Copa America Centenario and in 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, Almirón held the top selling jersey in MLS this year.
Víctor Vázquez Midfielder
The former FC Barcelona academy player led Toronto FC to the best regular season points total in MLS history. Vázquez led Toronto FC to become the first Canadian club to capture the Supporters’ Shield. The Spaniard finished the season with 16 assists, the second most in MLS, to go along with his eight goals scored. Vázquez also led the league with six game-winning assists.
Diego Valeri Midfielder
The Argentine playmaker became the second player ever to record a 20-goal, 10-assist season in MLS, finishing the year with 21 scores and 11 helpers to lead Portland to the top seed in the Western Conference. The Argentine’s 32 combined goals and assists ranks tied for fifth-most in league history, while his nine consecutive matches with a goal scored set a new MLS record. Valeri previously led Portland to the 2015 MLS Cup title where he was named MLS Cup MVP.
Sebastian Giovinco Forward/
Giovinco helped lead Toronto to an historic season with the most points ever in an MLS season (69 points), as the Italian scoring 16 goals and provided six assists. With six direct free kick goals in 2017, Giovinco set a single-season MLS record while also becoming the all-time career leader in league history (13 career free kick goals). This season Giovinco garnered his third consecutive selections to the MLS Best XI squad and to the MLS All-Star Game presented by Target.
Josef Martínez Forward Atlanta United Nationality: Venezuela Born: May 19, 1993
The dynamic Venezuelan forward finished his debut MLS season with 19 goals scored, the most ever by a player in an expansion team’s first season. Martínez’s three hat tricks in one season tie an MLS mark while his 0.95 goals per game average ranks third in league annals among players with at least five goals scored in a single season. Martínez helped Atlanta to finish second in the league with 70 goals scored, the most ever by an expansion team in its first season in MLS.
Nemanja Nikolić Forward Chicago Fire Nationality: Hungary/Serbia Born: December 31, 1987
Nikolić joins Valeri and Villa as 20-plus goal scorers in 2017, the fourth time in league history three players have scored 20 or more goals in the same season. The 2017 Golden Boot winner (24 goals) finishes as the leading goalscorer in his respective league for the fourth consecutive season, accomplishing the feat across three different countries. The Hungary National Team forward helped Chicago return to the postseason with a third-place finish in the Eastern Conference standings.
David Villa Forward New York City FC Nationality: Spain Born: December 3, 1981
Villa makes his second MLS Best XI team after scoring 22 goals and leading NYCFC to the second seed in the Eastern Conference. Spain’s all-time leading goalscorer, Villa is one of only two players in league history to register consecutive 20-plus goal campaigns. Villa’s 63 goals rank first all-time among a player’s first three seasons in the league. Villa has played in three World Cups (2006, 2010, 2014), leading Spain to the 2010 title while receiving the Silver Shoe for scoring the second most goals in the tournament.