The MLS All Star game has changed quite interestingly in the history of the league. It was Eastern Conference vs Western Conference, MLS All Stars vs major clubs from around the world, and now the current rendition of MLS All Stars vs Liga MX All Stars. In my opinion, I think the conference vs conference style is the best option… but I’ll digress. Just like everyone else that is putting their opinions out there on Twitter, Instagram, etc. I am here to give you my opinions on the 2022 MLS All Stars. Not just the “best starting eleven” but here is my full 23 man roster for the MLS All Stars that should take on the best from Mexico. I decided to create as realistic of a roster as possible; 3 goalkeepers, 4 fullbacks, 4 centerbacks, 2 defensive midfielders, 4 “other” midfielders, 4 wingers, and 2 strikers. Without further ado, here is my roster for the 2022 All Star Game in Minnesota:
Starter - Zac MacMath (Real Salt Lake)
Bench Options - Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union) & Kristijan Kahlina (Charlotte FC)
Just like the surprise of Real Salt Lake in 2022, I think that Zac MacMath starting and playing as well as he has in 2022 might even be greater! Right now being tied for 2nd in MLS in shutouts with 7 and being a consistent piece on one of the better defenses in MLS gives him this spot for me. MacMath is constantly overlooked in his ability in this league… I think 2022 could be his breakout party as a good starting keeper in this league. Blake is my easy second pick here and a very closer challenger to MacMath. Blake has been a game winner from inside the net multiple times this season as well as being tied with MacMath with 7 clean sheets. Blake leading the best defense in MLS easily gets him a spot in this roster. The final roster spot to me came down to Dayne St. Clair, Gaga Slonina, and my eventual pick… Kristijan Kahlina. Kahlina seems to be breaking the David Gass theorem and coming into MLS from Europe, succeeding right away. The big man has been the best player on Charlotte FC in their 1st season recording 5 clean sheets so far.
Starting Left Back - Kai Wagner (Philadelphia Union)
Starting Right Back - Nathan Harriel (Philadelphia Union)
Bench Options - Diego Palacios (LAFC) & Alex Roldan (Seattle Sounders)
You might begin to notice a theme here on my defense… DOOP rules. The best fullback pairing in 2022 has been the Union’s Wagner & Harriel. Wagner has been the best left back in MLS for the past few seasons… while Harriel has had his breakout year in 2022. Wagner has been a force on defense as well as impacting the game on the offensive game with 2 assists as well. Harriel seems to be the better of the defenders in this pairing, playing very strong in his 17 appearances this season. Speaking of offensive impacting fullbacks, LAFC’s Diego Palacios has been that all season long on one of the league’s best defenses. 1 goal and 2 assists in his 14 games has allowed Diego to look the best he has been since joining LAFC a few years ago. The final fullback selection for me was Alex Roldan. There was some options out there of guys like Brandon Bye, Joao Moutinho, Claudio Bravo, DeJuan Jones, and a few more… but Roldan has continued to be one of the better fullbacks in MLS game in and game out. Outside of winning CONCACAF Champions League, Roldan has assisted on 3 goals in 2022, adding 1 goal scored as well. The El Salvador international deserves a spot on here.
Starters - Jack Elliott (Philadelphia Union) & Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls)
Bench Options - Jesus Murillo (LAFC) & Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC)
To be fair to a lot of centerbacks around MLS in 2022, not many standout above the others. I think the top 4 of Elliott, Long, Murrillo, and Zimmerman are the best 4 in 2022… but there are others you could argue to be in there. I went with Elliott as my number 1 option because again… the DOOP love right now as the league’s best defense. Aaron Long has been paired next to Elliott for my team as he has been the best defender on the Red Bulls strong backline, also adding 4 goals to his season total. With LAFC having one of the stronger defenses in MLS as well, Murillo being their best centerback makes his way onto the roster. The final centerback spot goes to the consistent MLS piece of Walker Zimmerman who has flourished even though Nashville’s defense hasn’t been as great as in year’s past. I have to give some love to Justen Glad, Jakob Glesnes, Alexander Callens, Mamadou Fall, and Matt Hedges.
Starter - Pablo Ruiz (Real Salt Lake)
Bench Option - Ilie Sanchez (LAFC)
If you follow me on Twitter, you know I’ve been SCREAMING for Pablo Ruiz’s performances in 2022. Ruiz has been easily one of the best performers in MLS and I would argue a MVP candidate. Ruiz has tagged on 3 assists to his 2022 performance, while playing very strong defense and supporting that backline. The 23 year old midfielder should 100% be on this roster and I will LOSE IT if he is not. The backup here for me is Michele Giannone’s 2022 favorite, Ilie Sanchez. Sanchez has had a career rejuvenation now with LAFC after an ugly end to his SKC tenure. You are not going to look at his statistics and seem them pop off at the screen, but watch one LAFC game and tell me you don’t see his presence. These two are easily my top picks for the d-mid spot on the MLS All Star roster.
Starters - Carles Gil (New England Revolution) & Emmanuel Reynoso (Minnesota United)
Bench Options - Hany Mukhtar (Nashville SC) & Sebastian Druissi (Austin FC)
The 2021 MLS MVP Carles Gil has continued his run as one of the best players in MLS. Carles Gil in 2022 has been FANTASTIC. Though he most likely won’t match his 2021 assist totals, Gil leads MLS in total key passes, has 8 assists, and another 4 goals. There is a lot of transition going on with New England, but as long as Gil is running that attack… this squad are MLS Cup contenders. Pairing next to Gil for me is Bebelo Reynoso who has hit an absolute amazing form as of late for the Loons. Reynoso has scored 7 times and assisted on 4 goals to help drag Minnesota into a fight for a playoff spot in the Western Conference. You could argue that these two dudes (Gil and Reynoso) are the most impactful players for their squads in MLS. Adding into this midfield is someone who plays up top for Nashville SC, Hany Mukhtar. To me, he truly is an attacking midfielder but plays “out of position” for the best use in Gary Smith’s system. But no matter where he plays, Hany continues to be a STUD for the yellow and blue. Hany has 9 goals and 5 assists in 2022 along with 29 key passes. He easily is one of the best talents to add to this bench along with Austin FC’s star, Driussi. Driussi is tied for the league lead in goals scored with 10 goals as well as adding 4 assists to Wolff’s side down in Texas. Driussi is the player that makes everyone else around him better; Pereira, Fagundez, Urruti, Lima, whoever… Driussi helps them all play their best games.
Starters - Paul Arriola (FC Dallas) & Talles Magno (NYCFC)
Bench Options - Carlos Vela (LAFC) & Djordje Mihailovic (CF Montreal)
The wingers might have been the most difficult of positions for me to select 4 players from. Arriola was my first selection and it was pretty easy as he is a clear MVP contender so far in 2022. Arriola has been pushing Jesus Ferreira a bit by scoring 8 goals himself so far in 2022, adding in 3 assists in all competitions. Arriola in MLS has also been able to tack on 32 key passes to this wild Dallas attack. The next option for me on the wing has to be the smoothest dude in MLS, reigning MLS Champion, Talles Magno. Magno being paired with Taty has helped his game a lot as he has assisted 6 total goals right now, with 4 goals scored himself. Magno is the future of NYCFC, but he also is easily one of the best players on this team right now. A short while ago there was a big chance that Carlos Vela was not even going to be in MLS, but now he’s here for this squad and to help them grab a few more trophies in 2022. Vela has 6 goals and 6 assists so far this year, in one of the scariest attacks that's only getting scarier, he is a lock for this roster for his on and off the field abilities. My final spot might be a hot take, but Djordje still deserves a spot here. I know he won’t be playing due to injury and that he hasn’t played for a bit… but he deserves to be named as an All Star. This dude has 7 goals and 4 assists in just 14 games, put this man on the roster and let him enjoy the All Star experience.
Starter - Jesus Ferreira (FC Dallas)
Bench Option - Brandon Vazquez (FC Cincinnati)
Tied for the league lead in goals scored… this dude has been the best striker in MLS in 2022. Jesus has flourished since receiving the DP level contract and now has awarded FC Dallas with a MVP caliber season. Jesus has 10 goals thus far and I expect a ton more especially as he is fighting for a USMNT spot heading into Qatar. Another dude potentially fighting for a spot (on multiple rosters) for Qatar is FC Cincinnati’s Brandon Vazquez. His 8 goals and 4 assists is probably the best offensive output for any FC Cincinnati MLS season. Outside of his club’s history, he is continuing to thrive in the league, outplaying guys on his roster like Brenner or Dominique Badji. Vazquez has exploded onto the scene where everyone who knows MLS is aware of this guy. Get him in this game playing against the best of Liga MX.