NASL Names 2016 Best XI Roster
The 2016 Best XI roster has been announced as the NASL season winds down with the The Championship Final scheduled for Sunday. The New York Cosmos host Indy Eleven at Belson Stadium in Queens as four players from the Best XI roster put on their boots one last time.
Related Article: NASL Championship Final Preview
NASL Soccer News: The North American Soccer League (NASL) released its 2016 Best XI roster ahead of The Championship Final, which features this year’s two top clubs – the New York Cosmos and Indy Eleven – at 7 p.m. ET at Belson Stadium in Queens, N.Y. on November 13th.
Four of the 11 players on this year’s list will compete in The Championship this Sunday seeking to to lift the Soccer Bowl Trophy – three from the Cosmos, one from Indy.
Here is a full rundown of this year’s NASL Best XI:
GK: Matt VanOekel (FC Edmonton) – The Eddies goalkeeper started 29 of his side’s 32 matches, setting league records for most shutouts (16) and goals against average (0.55). He made 95 saves in 2016, while keeping a record of 15W-8D-6L, and earned a Player of the Month award in August, earned Player of the Week twice, and was a member of the Team of the Week on seven occasions . He also received the league’s Golden Glove Award.
DEF: Ayoze (New York Cosmos) – The veteran defender was once again a consistent force on the left flank for the Cosmos and played in 30 matches (29 starts). Not only was Ayoze strong in the back, he also recorded two assists and had a passing accuracy of 80 percent. He was a member of the Team of the Week twice.
DEF: Justin Davis (Minnesota United) – The overall leader in NASL appearances with 151, Davis was named to the Best XI for a third straight season. He started 31 games and won 165 duels, made 89 interceptions, and won 64 tackles, leading Minnesota in each category. He also helped contribute on the attacking side with one goal and one assist during the season. Davis was named to the Team of the Week one time during the 2016 campaign.
DEF: Albert Watson (FC Edmonton) – Watson was the heart of the NASL’s top defense, which conceded just 21 goals, and he appeared 27 times (all starts). Watson made 109 clearances and 74 interceptions on the field and also won 105 duels. Watson recorded two goals during the campaign and was on the Team of the Week four times.
DEF: Carlos Mendes (New York Cosmos) – The Cosmos captain played in 27 games (all starts) and led the side’s back line. He made 90 clearances and 70 interceptions during the season and had a passing accuracy of 89 percent. Mendes was on the Team of the Week one time this campaign as he is named to his third straight selection to the NASL Best XI.
MID: Nazmi Albadawi (Carolina RailHawks) – Captaining Carolina this year, Albadawi set a league record with 10 assists in 29 starts. Albadawi was second in the NASL in chances created (50) and notched three goals in 2016. Albadawi concluded the year with a passing accuracy of 81 percent and was the Player of the Week once. He was also selected to the Team of the Week on four occasions.
MID: Juan Arango (New York Cosmos) – Arango led New York in scoring with 15 goals – tied for second best in the NASL. He created 44 chances and picked up seven assists in 2016 and was also tied for second-best in the NASL, in 29 starts. Arango was Player of the Month for October, Player of the Week twice and was also named to the Team of the Week on 10 occasions.
MID: Joe Cole (Tampa Bay Rowdies) – The English star’s season may best be remembered for a stunning bicycle kick, but Cole tallied nine goals and seven assists, tied for second in the league, in 24 appearances (23 starts). No player created more opportunities than Cole (57) during the 2016 campaign. He was Player of the Week once and made six appearances on the Team of the Week.
MID: Michel (Rayo OKC) – The veteran midfielder finished the season with 14 goals in 27 starts and showed his composure, scoring seven goals from the penalty spot. His goalscoring was crucial in the final stretch of the Fall Season, finding the back of the net four times in the final five matches. Michel earned Player of the Week honors twice and was named to the Team of the Week five times this season.
FWD: Christian Ramirez (Minnesota United) – Ramirez led the NASL in goals with 18 in 2016. He started in 30 of his 31 league appearances and recorded four assists with 34 chances created during the campaign. He was named Player of the Month in July, was earned Player of the Week twice, and was also on Team of the Week eight times.
FWD: Eamon Zayed (Indy Eleven) – He took the league by storm in his first NASL campaign, earning a pair of hat tricks and scoring 15 goals – tied for second in the league – overall in 31 appearances (30 starts). Zayed also added six assists. He scored one of the most memorable goals in Indy history, which helped clinch the Spring Season title. Zayed was Player of the Month in June, Player of the Week three times, and was on the Team of the Week three times.
Photo Credit: North American Soccer League