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MLS All-Star XI: Andrea Pirlo, Kaka And Sebastian Giovinco Feature

MLS All-Star XI: Andrea Pirlo, Kaka And Sebastian Giovinco Feature MLS All-Star XI

Ahead of the 2017 MLS season, we’ve put together an All-Star XI to reflect some of the league’s most prestigious talent.

David Villa MVP Mls Newyork City Award

Despite a handful of star-name departures from the league over the off-season such as Robbie Keane, Didier Drogba, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, America's premier soccer division is still full to the brim with household names.

From Ashley Cole to Sebastian Giovinco, here's a look at our very attacking All-Star XI.

Tim Howard is set to begin his first full season in the MLS

The former Everton and Manchester United goalkeeper returned home to play for Colorado Rapids in the summer last season.

As the first goalkeeper to be signed to a Designated Player contract, Howard was instantly placed into the side and helped Colorado achieve their most successful regular season in franchise history, finishing second, before reaching the MLS Western Conference semi-finals.

Matt Hedges - FC Dallas

FC Dallas' Matt Hedges was nominated the MLS 2016 Defender of the Year

The 26-year-old American was nominated the 2016 MLS Defender of the Year for his outstanding efforts in the FC Dallas backline on their way to winning the Supporters' Shield.

When Hedges played, Dallas conceded just 23 goals in his 26 appearances (0.88 goals against) compared to the 17 they allowed in the eight games he missed (2.125).

Jelle Van Damme - LA Galaxy

Jelle Van Damme has been handed a Designated Player contract after an impressive 2016 season

Despite being 33-years-old, the 6ft 4" defender arrived in Los Angeles from Standard Liege and showed stability in defence and confidence on the ball even with his bulky frame.

The former Belgium international was rewarded for his efforts in the off-season as he was handed a Designated Player contract previously held by the likes of Keane and Gerrard.

Ashley Cole - LA Galaxy

Ashley Cole has won over critics at LA Galaxy

Cole joined the Galaxy at the start of the 2016 season as an unpopular figure after being quoted in 2014 for not wanting to make his final career move "to sit on a beach".

But he proved the doubters wrong on his £4,000-a-week contract as his quality shone through. He staved off injury to regularly feature in the Galaxy backline.

Unfortunately, Cole was one of the three to miss their spot-kicks against Colorado Rapids last season to crash out at the Western Conference semi-finals stage.

Clint Dempsey - Seattle Sounders

Clint Dempsey is expected to return to the starting line-up having been out for six months

Even though Seattle Sounders lifted their first MLS Cup in 2016, the season would come to a sad end for Dempsey who missed the last six months of the campaign after being diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat.

A talisman for Seattle, and US soccer as a whole, the 33-year-old has been given the all-clear to return to the starting line-up in the Sounders' season opener against Houston Dynamo on Saturday evening.

Andrea Pirlo - New York City

Andrea Pirlo will be hoping for a more successful season in MLS in his second year

Lampard may have left but Pirlo remains in the New York City midfield and will be looking for a more comfortable ride in MLS this season having experienced an unsettled 2016.

With NYCFC head coach Patrick Vieira admitting he feels he has a better squad this year than last, perhaps Pirlo will now have the surroundings to play to his creative best.

Kaka - Orlando City

Kaka will be expected to be the centre of attention once again at Orlando

A consistently productive performer for the Florida-based club, Kaka will be the man Orlando players will look to once again to provide leadership, creativity and goals.

The 2007 Ballon D'Or winner is the clear focal point of the team having scored 18 goals and contributed 15 assists in 52 appearances over his two seasons at Orlando. Should the 34-year-old remain fit, he will surely be an asset yet again.

Sebastian Giovinco - Toronto FC

Giovinco is widely considered the best player in the league by the media, players and fans. In his two seasons at Toronto since moving to Canada in 2015, the 5ft 4" Italian has scored 39 goals and delivered 31 assists.

The former Juventus forward won the league's MVP award in his debut term, and helped TFC reach the MLS Cup final last season before losing to Seattle Sounders on penalties.

David Villa - New York City FC

David Villa will lead the NYCFC attack this season

Villa scored 23 goals in MLS last season on his way to winning the league's MVP award, and helped New York City finish second in the Eastern Conference to reach the post-season for the first time.

Despite plenty of changes on and off the pitch at NYCFC over the club's two years, the former Barcelona and Atletico Madrid striker remains Vieira's star player entering the new campaign.

Bradley Wright-Phillips - New York Red Bulls

Bradley Wright-Phillips has won the MLS Golden Boot in two of the last three seasons

Wright-Phillips continued to surprise any remaining cynics by finishing the 2016 MLS season as the league's top goalscorer with 24 goals, beating every prestigious name on the list.

Wright-Phillips' goal record stateside is incredible. The former Manchester City, Southampton and Plymouth striker has netted 69 times in 107 league appearances, picking up the MLS Golden Boot in 2014 and 2017. The 31-year-old can never be written off.

Giovani Dos Santos - LA Galaxy

Giovani dos Santos will be expected to lead LA Galaxy to MLS Cup glory

With Gerrard and Keane no longer at the club, Dos Santos is now the centrepiece at the Galaxy. The 27-year-old will look to try and improve on his 15 goals and 13 assists from last season.

The Mexico international will be expected to spearhead a much younger looking squad to success in 2017 following a disappointing 2016 campaign by the five-time MLS Cup winners' standard. The Galaxy crashed out at the first hurdle of the knockout stage to Colorado Rapids on penalties last year.

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MLS All-Star XI: Andrea Pirlo, Kaka And Sebastian Giovinco Feature
Richard Okoye

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