This was TOUGH. While Bill keeps posting actual interesting things, I had to slave over this, and make some agonizing decisions. I apologize in advance to those who didn't make the cut.
1. - Martin Zuniga, Chivas USA. Jorge Campos, Chris Woods and Jim St. Andre fought very hard for the starting goalkeeper spot, but I just had to give it to Zuniga. You have no idea how good Brad Guzan looked once Zuniga actually tried to play a game in 2005.
2. John Kerr, Jr., New England. The only serious competitors here were Chad Ashton, Vuk Rasovic and Ricky Lewis.
3. Michael Umana, Los Angeles. Just a genuinely horrible player. Amusingly, a Costa Rican international.
4. Branco, Metrostars. The New York/New Jersey franchise had nominees for nearly every number here, of course. It broke my heart to leave Mike Burns off the list, but Branco was something special.
5. Jerry Tamashiro, Miami. Some tough competition for this spot. Paul Caligiuri sued and won to stop wearing #5 for Columbus. Facundo Erpen was and remains painful to watch. And Mohammed Khakpour may be the slowest person to ever wear an MLS uniform. But even Jamie Trecker gets some things right sometimes, so I'm going to have to agree with him here.
6. Damian Silvera, Metrostars. Just a whisker over the player who briefly inherited this jersey, Steve Shak.
7. John Harkes, Columbus. Harkes didn't demand #6 from Todd Yeagley. Or, perhaps he did, and the Crew didn't think Harkes deserved it. An undeniably brilliant career sputtered to a halt here.
8. Antonio Otero, DC United. New York/New Jersey fans of a certain age group will scream for Edmundo Rodriguez' inclusion here, but there's something about how Otero utterly failed to pick up the mantle from Marco Etcheverry that puts him ahead of Rodriguez and "Popeye" Herrera.
9. Guillermo Gonzalez, Los Angeles. Easily the toughest, hardest-fought lineup spot. Memo held off Marcelo Vega, Isaac Romo, Dario Fabbro, Hugo Sanchez AND Juan Berthy Suarez. But since Memo had a longer MLS career than those guys COMBINED, with less production than ANY of them. Well, okay, technically he's tied with JBS - Suarez had two games, two starts, four shots, one shot on goal, no goals, no assists. Memo had twelve games, two starts, five shots, one shot on goal, no goals, no assists. Suarez played part of 1996, Memo hung around for five years. At $70,000 a year. (As I was looking up these stats, I realized Hugo Sanchez didn't really belong in consideration here - he did have six goals in 1996, and another one in the playoffs. Pretty good for the worst coach in the world.)
10. Lothar Matthaeus, Metrostars (captain). Man, this was agonizing to pick. From Washington Rodriguez to Mike Sorber to Travis Mulraine to Hector Cuadros to Denilson, this number was given to some hideous players. But this was the number that Pele wore in Giants Stadium. Bonus points are given because, as Jeff Bradley reminded us, Roberto Donadoni deferred to Tab Ramos for this number back in 1996, but Matthaeus would not. Ramos got the number back in 2001. The moral here? Roberto Donadoni should have taken the number back in 1996.
11. Khodadad Azizi, San Jose. The easiest call on this entire list. The only possible way Azizi would have had any competition here is if Matthaeus, Denilson or Memo Gonzalez ever wore #11. Compared to Azizi, John Wolyniec and Antonio Martinez were freaking Puskas and Di Stefano.
This is pretty much the MLS all-time worst XI, as well - probably the only change I'd make is putting in Hong Myung-Bo in for Harkes.
For those of you who are curious, Greg Lalas wore #17 for the Mutiny, and Aidan Heaney wore #32 for New England. If your tastes run to villainy, Jake Dancy wore #16 for Kansas City, and Diego Serna wore various combinations of 17, 71 and 77 in his travels, so they weren't eligible for consideration here. Mamadou Diallo wore #9, but no way was he taking the shirt off Memo.