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Americans at home: Three Yanks on the 2019 MLS Best XI

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A trio of defenders makes this year’s list

SOCCER: SEP 06 USA v Mexico

The USMNT has been looking for some good news after the loss to Canada earlier this month. Perhaps Sergino Dest joining the team officially is a sign of things to come. Another good step is that young American defenders are being recognized for their club contributions in MLS. Those three are Ike Opara, Miles Robinson, and Walker Zimmerman.

After a breakout year with Atlanta United in which he supplanted captain Michael Parkhurst on the depth chart, Miles Robinson emerged as the best 1v1 defender in the league by some accounts and took one of three defender spots on the list. Walker Zimmerman had his own solid year leading the LAFC backline. The centerback was a key member of a backline that allowed an MLS leading 37 goals allowed and took a step forward in eliminating some of the mistakes in his game that show up from time to time.

The final name on the list is one that hasn’t had much of a career with the national team - Ike Opara. The Minnesota United man joined the Loons from Sporting Kansas City and took what was a defense that had allowed 70 goals the previous two seasons and ended 2019 tied with 5th least goals allowed at 43 along with Atlanta United. Opara has just one USMNT cap despite a career in MLS as a solid defender season after season. He was named MLS Defender of the Year this year and at 30 years-old, may have more to offer the Stars and Stripes.

The three spots are a good sign for Americans in the league, but the lack of attackers on the list is a concern. However, some US players did shine in MLS this season including Jordan Morris who put together a 10 goal, seven assist season while youngster Jeremy Ebobisse scored 11 for the Portland Timbers.