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Thursday, November 10, 2011
GALAXY: Dunivant in Best XI quartet

By Scott French

David Beckham? No surprise. Landon Donovan? Been here before. Omar Gonzalez? The man is MLS's Defender of the Year.

Their inclusion in Major League Soccer's Best XI was more or less expected. That left back Todd Dunivant joined them on the league's postseason all-star team was the real reward for the Galaxy.

Dunivant, 30, has enjoyed his finest season as a pro, but his selection to the Best XI comes as a little bit of a surprise after he finished fifth in the Defender of the Year balloting. He leapt past the third- and fourth-place finishers in that vote -- Real Salt Lake's Nat Borchers and Philadelphia's Carlos Valdes -- to join Gonzalez and RSL's Jamison Olave on the all-league side. He's the only outside back on the XI.

Beckham, a first-time Best XI choice after an MVP-quality season, and Donovan, the Galaxy's leader, were expected to make the side, although Donovan's lack of late-season production could have cost him in a deeper than normal field of candidates.

Gonzalez, who was a Best XI choice last year, also was a slam-dunk pick.

Here's the full XI:

GOALKEEPER
Kasey Keller (Seattle Sounders):
The former U.S. national team star wrapped a legendary campaign by leading Seattle to the second-best record in the league.

DEFENDERS
Todd Dunivant (Galaxy):
L.A.'s left back is rewarded for a marvelous campaign in which he established himself as MLS's best outside back.

Omar Gonzalez (Galaxy): The MLS Defender of the Year had a mammoth campaign, taking a huge stride forward to make the Best XI in back-to-back years.

Jamison Olave (Real Salt Lake): The big Colombian is MLS's most physically dominant backliner, blending athleticism and guile in an explosive package.
MIDFIELDERS
David Beckham (Galaxy):
The English superstar's service and commitment was pivotal in L.A.'s run to a second straight Supporters' Shield and second MLS Cup appearance in three years.

Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo):
The expected MLS MVP lifted the MLS Cup finalists with his superb delivery and led the league with 16 assists.

Landon Donovan (Galaxy): L.A.'s captain scored a dozen goals for the sixth time in 11 MLS seasons and broadened his game to lead the Galaxy to their successes, receiving Best XI acclaim for the fourth straight season.

Brek Shea (FC Dallas): The 21-year-old winger enjoyed a breakout campaign, scoring 11 goals and taking on a huge role after 2010 MVP David Ferreira's season-ending injury, and has a training stint set up at Arsenal.

FORWARDS
Dwayne De Rosario (D.C. United):
The Canadian attacker found a home in the capital after bouncing from Toronto to New York to D.C., scoring 13 goals in 17 games for United -- and winning the Golden Boot with 16 goals in all.

Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls): The French great scored 14 goals, most with superb style, to lead the Red Bulls into the playoffs.

Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes): The 2010 Golden Boot winner just missed out on becoming the first back-to-back winner, losing to De Rosario on assists after scoring 16 goals.

WORTH NOTING: Mark Geiger was selected Referee of the Year, and Corey Rockwell was voted Assistant Referee (Linesman) of the Year. ... MLS Commissioner Don Garber, who unveiled the Best XI on his end-of-season teleconference, said the league would return to an unbalanced schedule in 2012, with each team playing 34 games. Montreal, the 19th franchise, debuts next season. ... Garber said the league's competition committee was considering awarding the MLS Cup to the Supporters' Shield winner -- the venue has always been selected early in the season as a “neutral” site (although the Galaxy will be the third team, following D.C. in 1997 and New England in 2002, to play at home in the title game. D.C. won, New England lost to L.A.). ... Also up for discussion is another change to the playoff format; this year saw the addition of a wild-card round, boosting qualifiers from eight to 10. ... The board of directors will weigh changes at its annual meeting on the eve of the Nov. 10 final at Home Depot Center.

Rookie of the Year: C.J. Sapong (Sporting Kansas City)
Defender of the Year: Omar Gonzalez (Galaxy)
Golden Boot: Dwayne De Rosario (D.C. United)
Assists leader: Brad Davis (Houston)
Humanitarian of the Year: Zak Boggs (New England Revolution)
Fair Play/Individuals: Sebastien Le Toux (Philadelphia Union)
Fair Play/Team: Portland Timbers
Referee of the Year: Mark Geiger
Assistant Referee of the Year: Corey Rockwell

Coming ...
Coach of the Year (Nov. 14)
Comeback Player of the Year (Nov. 14)
Newcomer of the Year (Nov. 15)
Goalkeeper of the Year (Nov. 15)
Goal of the Year (Nov. 16)
Save of the Year (Nov. 16)
MVP (Nov. 18)
Commissioner's Award (Nov. 18)