It’s that time of summer again when MLS players, press, and fans are forced to go through the motions of fanfare as we all turn out to watch an exhibition match between the 11 players in MLS that most people have seen on TV a couple times, and also a very famous team from Europe. This year it’s Real Madrid, and the fan voting has once again left a number of fans and players scratching their heads. Well. No matter. We shall attempt to right these wrongs as best as we can and to give at least SOME recognition to many players deserving of acknowledgement .
The rules for inclusion into the Total MLS Alt Star team are simple and as follows: To be eligible a player has to (A) be an MLS Player and (B) not selected to the official MLS All Star team.
Okay, now then, on with it. Here they are, your 2017 Total MLS Alt Stars!
Tim Melia, Sporting KC
Of all the Alt Stars on our list, Melia’s availability for selection has to be the biggest surprise snub from the main team. Currently, Sporting Kansas City sit atop the Western Conference with the least goals allowed by a wide margin (five goals less than the next best team, Toronto FC). While much of that defensive effort can be attributed to the back line, Melia has managed to stop a massive 78.8% of shots aimed his way. Additionally, he has the most penalty saves of any other goalkeeper in the league, stopping three of the five he’s faced this season. And if one thinks his saves have been easy to handle, his heroics has merited five Save of the Week nominations already this year. A goalkeeper who sits in the top five in overall saves and has allowed fewer goals than games played with more than two thirds of the season finished deserves a spot on the MLS All-Stars without a doubt. But since he isn’t, Total MLS will gladly take him
Kemar Lawrence, New York Red Bulls
The Jamaica international was a key piece in the Reggae Boyz’ run to the Gold Cup Final, but his play with the Red Bulls this season has been even better. Taxi, as the Red Bull faithful calls him, has a goal and four assists in fifteen games for a New York defense that has conceded just twenty six goals in twenty one games. At just 24 years old, Lawrence has just begun to reach his true potential.
Ike Opara, Sporting Kansas City
We love Ike? Who doesn’t? Opara is arguably the Defensive Player of the Year frontrunner, and the fact he didn’t make the All Star team is pretty laughable. Opara has battled injuries throughout his career and suffered a scary concussion this season. With all that he’s gone through, it’s great to see him having success this season. His (kinda) bicycle kick goal got run on all the highlight shows and social media earlier this year. Oh, and don’t take my word on Ike’s omission being laughable, take it from the man himself.
Florian Jungwirth, San Jose Earthquakes
Flo knows defense. (Sorry, that was lame.) Jungwirth joined MLS without much fanfare but the German would be a favorite for Newcomer of the Year in most years that Nemanja Nikolic wasn’t around. Flo has proven to be a great passer out of the back and has chipped in two goals and two assists, playing all 90 minutes in each of his 20 starts in 2017.
Joevin Jones, Seattle Sounders
Nine assists is great for most players. Nine assists is fantastic for a defender. Jones also has a goal this season for the defending champions and has been a terror on the left side of Seattle’s attack all year. Sadly, this may be Jones’ last Alt Star selection as the Trinidad international has signed a pre-contract with SV Darmstadt 98 and will be leaving for Germany at the conclusion of this MLS season.
Victor Vasquez, Toronto FC
It’s been a fine opening campaign for Toronto’s new Spanish midfielder. Vasquez has aided Toronto’s Supporters’ Shield push with four goals and five assists. Vasquez has inserted himself well in a very talented and crowded Toronto midfield and set himself apart with his ability to create from all over the pitch.
Cristian Roldan, Seattle Sounders
If last year was Roldan’s breakout season, this year is all about him establishing himself as one of the league’s consistently excellent midfielders. Despite Seattle’s early season struggles, Roldan has been the brightest spot for the defending MLS Cup champions. He’s contributed five goals and two assists while managing to chip in defensively. So far this year, he’s averaging a very favorable line of 3.1 tackles, 1.2 clearances, and 1.6 interceptions per 90 minutes.
David Accam, Chicago Fire
Chicago have enjoyed their finest start to a campaign in a very long time, and the newly revamped Eastern Conference hopefuls have found themselves with a number of weapons all over the pitch. Of these Accam has been the most dangerous with 12 goals and six assists. David’s numbers would likely have caught more of the attention of the public at large were it not for his teammate Nemanja Nikolic’s impressive goal scoring tally dominating the conversation around the Chicago Fire. While Nikolic is deservedly getting recognition by being voted into the official MLS All Star team, we’re extremely happy to have David here with us.
Romain Alessandrini, LA Galaxy
It’s been a mostly unpleasant season for the LA Galaxy and their fans. Injuries, locker room disharmony, defensive lapses, and a very rough transition from the Bruce Arena era have left many looking for answers. Fortunately, one man that needs not be questioned is their offseason signing from France. Romain has been the man keeping LA’s head above the water so far this year with eight goals and seven assists. More than the eyebrow raising numbers which speak for themselves, Romain has shown himself to be a player of considerable skill and flair. Alessandrini is a bright spark in what has otherwise been a dark and forgettable LA Galaxy season.
Maxi Urruti, FC Dallas
Maxi has been directly involved in 15 goals for FC Dallas this season, nearly half of their 2017 season’s output (32) to date. The Argentinian’s high workrate and pressing ability make him an integral part of Oscar Pareja’s plans and without a doubt the most valuable offensive weapon in FCD’s toolkit. His total of 15 goals and assists is only one less than MLS All Star Sebastian Giovinco, one more than Altidore, eight more than Gio Dos Santos, and ten more than Dwyer.
Christian Ramirez, Minnesota United FC
One of the big questions heading into Minnesota’s inaugural season was whether or not their prized striker would be able to make the jump to MLS. The answer is without a doubt a resounding yes. Ramirez has already scored 11 times this season (also adding on an assist) and looks set to have a bright future in this league and possibly the USMNT if his goal scoring form continues.
Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union), Justin Morrow (Toronto FC), Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution), Maxi Moralez (NYCFC), Alexander Ring (NYCFC), Justin Meram (Columbus Crew SC), Bradley Wright-Phillips (New York Red Bulls)