It shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that one was named the league’s Defensive Player of the Year yesterday, and the other is widely considered a top-two candidate for MVP, but it’s a major positive nonetheless: Nashville SC centerback Walker Zimmerman and attacking midfielder Hany Mukhtar have been named Best-XI players in Major League Soccer.
From League release:
NEW YORK (December 2, 2021) – Major League Soccer today announced the 2021 Best XI, a collection of elite performers from the 2021 MLS regular season and one of the most prestigious annual honors a player can receive. The Best XI – recognizing the league’s top players at each position as determined by media, MLS players, and MLS club technical staffs – features some of the league’s most exciting and accomplished talent. Representing eight nations and five clubs – all of which qualified for the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs – the group features a number of breakout stars selected to their first Best XI and several international stars on the brink of helping their national teams qualify for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
2021 MLS Best XI
Goalkeeper: Matt Turner (New England Revolution)
Defenders: Yeimar Gómez Andrade (Seattle Sounders FC), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC)
Midfielders: Tajon Buchanan (New England Revolution), Carles Gil (New England Revolution), Hany Mukhtar (Nashville SC), João Paulo (Seattle Sounders FC)
Forwards: Gustavo Bou (New England Revolution), Valentín Castellanos (New York City FC), Raúl Ruidíaz (Seattle Sounders FC)
Walker Zimmerman, a regular presence for the USMNT in central defense, was named the MLS Defender of the Year for a second consecutive season in 2021 and named to the Best XI for a third time – most of any player in the group. He’s joined by Miles Robinson, another regular for the USA throughout the year, named to his second Best XI. The defensive group is rounded out by Yeimar Gómez Andrade, a first-time Best XI honoree in the same year where he earned a call-up to Colombia’s national team for the first time.
Four finalists for the Landon Donovan MLS Most Valuable Player award for 2021 are included in the Best XI, including three midfielders. Carles Gil, who led the league in assists in 2021 for the New England Revolution, was named to the Best XI for a second time, while João Paulo earned the nod for the first time in his MLS career. Also named to the team for the first time is MVP finalist Hany Mukhtar, who led Major League Soccer in combined goals and assists over the 2021 regular season.
Walker Zimmerman | Defender | Nashville SC | Nationality: United States | Born: May 19, 1993
Leading Nashville SC to new heights in 2021, Walker Zimmerman has been named MLS Defender of the Year for the second straight season and included in the Best XI for three consecutive seasons. Zimmerman led the Boys in Gold to a league-tying 13 clean sheets and went unbeaten at Nissan Stadium. The Georgia-born defender has accumulated 22 caps for the USMNT and helped the United States win the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup.
Hany Mukhtar | Midfielder | Nashville SC | Nationality: Germany | Born: March 21, 1995
In his first full season in MLS, Hany Mukhtar burst onto the scene in a big way – recording a league-high 28 combined goals and assists. Mukhtar’s match-tying goal on Decision Day preserved Nashville’s unbeaten season at Nissan Stadium and tied an all-time league record for fewest losses in a regular season at four. This is Mukhtar’s first Best XI selection.Major League Soccer release
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