For the second straight year, three Seattle Sounders were named to the MLS Best XI. Raúl Ruidíaz, João Paulo and Yeimar Gomez Andrade all earned that honor this year. A year earlier, Ruidíaz was joined by Nicolás Lodeiro and Jordan Morris.
No one was better.— Major League Soccer (@MLS) December 2, 2021
Meet your 2021 MLS Best XI. pic.twitter.com/xdN2zWdBhu
Prior to last year, the Sounders had only six Best XI players in their history and only once were two players named the same year (in 2014 when Chad Marshall was joined by Obafemi Martins). Ruidíaz is now just the second Sounder — along with Marshall — to be named to two different Best XIs and he’s the first to make it in consecutive seasons.
All three Sounders had solid cases to be included. Yeimar finished second in Defender of the Year voting, while leading the league’s top defense, João Paulo is an MVP finalist after an outstanding two-way season and Ruidíaz had 17 goals, tied for third in the Golden Boot race.
Still, the Sounders’ heavy representation is partly at the center of some controversy with this year’s voting. Despite a bumper year in terms of worthy players from a variety of teams, only six teams were represented and the Sounders were the only team from the Western Conference. Among the notable snubs were Demir Kreilach (16 goals, 9 assists), Daniel Salloi (16 goals, 8 assists) and Andre Blake (-7.6 G-xG).