MLS

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MLS 195 8 Major League Soccer: Best XI midseason 2012 31177052 San Jose Earthquakes San+Jose+Earthquakes MLS

A close look at the top performers in Major League Soccer reveals many of the same players who have been dominating the league for the better part of the past half dozen years in MLS.

Landon Donovan, Dwayne DeRosario, Chris Wondolowski and Kyle Beckerman have been among the league’s best for years, and nothing has changed in 2012, with all four of the perennial all-stars playing some of the best soccer in the league.

That doesn’t mean we haven’t had some new players emerge to impress us and establish themselves as elite players in MLS. Columbus goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum has gone from career back-up to dark-horse MVP candidate, while Chris Pontius has carried over the form he showed in the second half of 2011 by emerging as arguably the best goal-scoring wide player in the league.

Here is a closer look at the 11 players FOX Soccer has chosen as being the best at their positions through the first half of the 2011 season:
 

Ron Chenoy - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2012/07/06/070612-MLS-gallery-PI_20120706164300659_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2012/07/06/070612-MLS-gallery-PI_20120706164300659_107_80.JPG
MLS 195 8 Major League Soccer: Best XI midseason 2012 31177048 Kenny Cooper, F, New York Red Bulls Kenny+Cooper%2C+F%2C+New+York+Red+Bulls MLS

Thierry Henry may be the biggest star in New York, but Cooper has been the biggest reason for the Red Bulls ability to still be near the top of the East despite missing Henry for a big chunk of the first half of the season. His 11 goals are second best in MLS, and he was instrumental in the team’s five-match winning streak without Henry.

Joe Camporeale - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2012/07/06/070612-MLS-gallery-11_20120706163545651_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2012/07/06/070612-MLS-gallery-11_20120706163545651_107_80.JPG
MLS 195 8 Major League Soccer: Best XI midseason 2012 31177047 Chris Wondolowski, F, San Jose Chris+Wondolowski%2C+F%2C+San+Jose MLS

Death, taxes and Wondolowski leading MLS in goals scored. Some things just seem inevitable. Wondolowski’s outstanding first half hasn’t just been about the 14 goals he has scored either. He has delivered key goals late in games, and has also shown an improving all-around game as well. A major reason the Earthquakes have the best record in MLS.

Kelley L Cox - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2012/07/06/070612-MLS-gallery-10_20120706163457649_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2012/07/06/070612-MLS-gallery-10_20120706163457649_107_80.JPG
MLS 195 8 Major League Soccer: Best XI midseason 2012 31177040 Landon Donovan, M/F, LA Galaxy Landon+Donovan%2C+M%2FF%2C+LA+Galaxy MLS

The Galaxy’s recent resurrection is a direct result of Donovan stepping up his game and driving an underachieving LA offense to a new level. Donovan has compiled six goals and four assists, and looks poised for a strong second half of the season—assuming he doesn’t head to Europe this summer.

Russ Isabella - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2012/07/06/070612-MLS-gallery-9_20120706163134647_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2012/07/06/070612-MLS-gallery-9_20120706163134647_107_80.JPG
MLS 195 8 Major League Soccer: Best XI midseason 2012 31177033 Kyle Beckerman, M, Real Salt Lake Kyle+Beckerman%2C+M%2C+Real+Salt+Lake MLS

Known for his ability to dominate possession in midfield, Beckerman has flashed more of his attacking qualities in 2012 (notching four goals and three assists), helping lead RSL’s offense when other key attackers have been injured. A case can certainly be made for Seattle’s Osvaldo Alonso in this slot, but Beckerman gets the nod for his two-way ability this season.

Russ Isabella - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2012/07/06/070612-MLS-gallery-8_20120706162913645_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2012/07/06/070612-MLS-gallery-8_20120706162913645_107_80.JPG
MLS 195 8 Major League Soccer: Best XI midseason 2012 31177031 Dwayne DeRosario, M, DC United Dwayne+DeRosario%2C+M%2C+DC+United MLS

The 2011 MLS MVP put out numbers last year that were so outrageous there is almost a misperception that he’s having a less than stellar 2012. That is definitely not the case, as evidenced by his key role in DC United’s run to first place in the East. He has compiled five goals with a league-leading 10 assists and remains the best playmaker in the league.

Paul Frederiksen - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2012/07/06/070612-MLS-gallery-7_20120706162606643_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2012/07/06/070612-MLS-gallery-7_20120706162606643_107_80.JPG
MLS 195 8 Major League Soccer: Best XI midseason 2012 31177030 Chris Pontius, M, DC United Chris+Pontius%2C+M%2C+DC+United MLS

A broken leg cut short what was an outstanding second half of 2011 for Pontius, but he picked up right where he left off, emerging as a consistent attacking threat who can score goals at will if given space by defenses (he has a career-high nine goals already). A US national team call-up seems likely if Pontius can keep playing like the best left-sided player in MLS.

Anne-Marie Sorvin - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2012/07/06/070612-MLS-gallery-6_20120706162316641_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2012/07/06/070612-MLS-gallery-6_20120706162316641_107_80.JPG
MLS 195 8 Major League Soccer: Best XI midseason 2012 31177029 Gonzalo Segares, D, Chicago Gonzalo+Segares%2C+D%2C+Chicago MLS

It has been an uncharacteristically strong year for left backs in MLS, and you can definitely argue that Segares has been the best of the bunch. The Costa Rican fullback has been key to Chicago’s defensive success, providing a steady presence on the left, both defensively and going forward.

Andrew Carpenean - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2012/07/06/070612-MLS-gallery-5_20120706162211639_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2012/07/06/070612-MLS-gallery-5_20120706162211639_107_80.JPG
MLS 195 8 Major League Soccer: Best XI midseason 2012 31177028 Aurelien Collin, D, Sporting Kansas City Aurelien+Collin%2C+D%2C+Sporting+Kansas+City MLS

The French centerback was one of the key factors behind Sporting KC’s record-breaking start to the season. He not only played impeccable defense during that unbeaten stretch, but he also proved to be a dangerous scoring threat on set pieces.

Jamie Squire - Getty Images http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2012/07/06/070612-MLS-gallery-4_20120706162015637_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2012/07/06/070612-MLS-gallery-4_20120706162015637_107_80.JPG
MLS 195 8 Major League Soccer: Best XI midseason 2012 31177027 Jamison Olave, D, Real Salt Lake Jamison+Olave%2C+D%2C+Real+Salt+Lake MLS

The imposing Colombian centerback has continued to terrorize strikers and solidify an RSL defense that is one of the best in the league when he is on the field. Real Salt Lake’s recent struggles can be directly attributed to his absence, reminding us just how valuable and dominant he is.
 

Russ Isabella - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2012/07/06/070612-MLS-gallery-3_20120706161645635_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2012/07/06/070612-MLS-gallery-3_20120706161645635_107_80.JPG
MLS 195 8 Major League Soccer: Best XI midseason 2012 31177026 Lee Young-Pyo, D, Vancouver Whitecaps Lee+Young-Pyo%2C+D%2C+Vancouver+Whitecaps MLS

The South Korean fullback has made a seamless transition to MLS, giving the Whitecaps a serious threat on the right flank, as well as a steady defensive presence on that side of the field.

Reuters/Ben Nelms/Action Images - http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2012/07/06/070612-MLS-gallery-2_20120706161428633_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2012/07/06/070612-MLS-gallery-2_20120706161428633_107_80.JPG
MLS 195 8 Major League Soccer: Best XI midseason 2012 31177025 Andy Gruenebaum, GK, Columbus Crew Andy+Gruenebaum%2C+GK%2C+Columbus+Crew MLS

Thrust into the starting role after a season-ending injury to Will Hesmer, Gruenebaum has been outstanding in net and has helped the Crew exceed expectations despite a weak offense and injury-hit defense. He is second in the league in shutouts (6) and saves, and is leading MLS in goals-against average among starters with at least a dozen starts.

Tony Tribble - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2012/07/06/070612-MLS-gallery-1_20120706161208631_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2012/07/06/070612-MLS-gallery-1_20120706161208631_107_80.JPG
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