With no all-star game for the first time in WPS history, a Best XI team for the 2011 season is the next best equivalent. WPS released its Best XI squad as voted on by media on Wednesday, which makes it a good time to share how I voted.
This is probably the toughest vote to date for a WPS all-league or all-star team. The talent was extremely concentrated with only six teams in WPS this season. A vast amount of international talent as well as a slew of emerging stars.
Below is how I voted. Yes, the team is heavy on ‘the big three’ from 2011 – Western New York Flash, Philadelphia Independence and magicJack. There are still a couple of surprises on the list, including one from a team that did not make the playoffs.
Sure, there is at least another full team of 11 players that could have made this list, but this is how I voted. Share your thoughts on who got snubbed and who you agree should be on the list. Remember, this list embodies players who had great WPS seasons. As much as some players put in incredible performances in the Women’s World Cup, that should not factor into the perception of their play in WPS. That is why FIFA has awards.
The Equalizer’s 2011 WPS Best XI –
GK – Ashlyn Harris, WNY Flash – Played every minute in goal for the 2011 WPS Champion. Her save on Laura del Rio’s fifth penalty in the championship was the final piece of a winning puzzle.
D – Tina Ellertson, magicJack – The best man-marking back in the league as evidenced in multiple games against WNY when she marked Marta out of the match.
D – Whitney Engen, WNY Flash – A young defender on the rise and a soon-to-be fixture at center back for the U.S. women’s national team.
D – Kia McNeill, Philadelphia Independence – Like Ellertson, McNeill is capable of making top notch forwards look invisible. She is Philadelphia’s best defensive pick-up this season and was one of the best players in the final.
M – Sarah Huffman, magicJack – One of the ultimate unsung heroes on a team loaded with national team talent. Everyone thinks of Megan Rapinoe on the flank, but Huffman patrolled magicJack’s midfield all season.
M – Caroline Seger, WNY Flash – Her time was limited due to the World Cup, but Seger was the catalyst of the Flash. She had five goals and an assist in just 12 games.
M – Veronica Boquete, Philadelphia Independence – League MVP and ultimate impact player. Philadelphia never makes it to the final without Boquete. Five goals and four assists in 11 games is more than impressive. It’s pure class.
M – Lori Chalupny, Atlanta Beat – Chalupny shined on an Atlanta team that did anything but win (with one controversial exception). File Chalupny under the ‘unsung heroes’ category as well.
F – Marta, WNY Flash – As long as she is playing, she’ll be on this list. Marta has defined individual greatness over the past five years. Many felt the Brazilian was a little “off” this year and she still tallied 10 goals and five assists, winning the Puma Golden Boot for a third-straight season.
F – Christine Sinclair, WNY Flash – Many thought Sinclair should have been the league MVP. She led WPS in goals (tied with Marta) and assists and scored in the championship match. Surely she is happier with the championship ring.
F – Tasha Kai, Philadelphia Independence – Unofficial comeback player of the year Tasha Kai had nine goals this season and was critical to Philadelphia’s success.
So, who gets your vote?
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