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Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Landon Donovan on Best XI -- as a midfielder

By Scott French

Major League Soccer righted a real wrong and awarded Landon Donovan a spot on its Best XI all-league team Tuesday -- as a midfielder.

Donovan, who led the league with 16 assists, is fully deserving the honor, but he was listed on the ballot as a forward, and with only two forward slots on the Best XI -- and teammate Edson Buddle and San Jose's Chris Wondolowski shoo-ins for those slots -- the Galaxy captain was looking like a no-go.

“We need to do the right thing,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said during his state-of-the-league conference call Tuesday morning, “and it's certainly right to have Landon [on the] Best XI.”

Donovan, one of four Galaxy players among the 11, played up front and in midfield for the Galaxy this season, seeing nearly twice as much time as a midfielder. The Galaxy submitted his name as a forward.

“Landon's basically played as a forward half the time and as a midfielder half the time,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said late last month. “If we had to nominate two forwards on the ballot, who are we going to nominate? You know the answer.”

Donovan had said he would be “bummed” not to make the Best XI.

Buddle, defender Omar Gonzalez and goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts also are on the all-league team.

Buddle, an MVP finalist scored 17 goals, was a certainty. Gonzalez was a sure bet after he was one of three finalists for Defender of the Year. Ricketts might not have been the best keeper in MLS, but he was going to make the team after his shock victory in goalkeeper of the year balloting.

The most disappointing aspect of the Best XI is the omission of holding, or defensive, midfielders -- arguably the most important position on the field. FC Dallas' Daniel Hernandez and Colorado's Jeff Larentowicz might have been the two best candidates, but voters -- media, players, coaches/GMs -- preferred higher-profile attacking midfielders.

MVP favorite David Ferreira of FC Dallas is the only player headed for the MLS Cup final. The Hoops meet the Colorado Rapids on Sunday in Toronto (ESPN and Galavision, 5:30 p.m.).

The full team:

Donovan Ricketts (L.A. Galaxy)

Nat Borchers (Real Salt Lake)
Omar Gonzalez (L.A. Galaxy)
Jamison Olave (Real Salt Lake)

Dwayne De Rosario (Toronto FC)
Landon Donovan (L.A. Galaxy)
David Ferreira (FC Dallas)
Sebastien Le Toux (Philadelphia Union)
Javier Morales (Real Salt Lake)

Edson Buddle (L.A. Galaxy)
Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)