Your MLS guide to the ultimate people’s players of 2021 | J. Sam Jones

This isn’t a Best XI, but it’s a collection of players who in some way understand that football is a sport for the masses. And the masses want to be entertained by whatever means necessary.

This is a group that you ask to watch so that we can really understand the depth of the human condition. Oh, and watch Nouhou do Nouhou things too. It’s actually mostly just about observing Nouhou.

Ilsinho

An all time member of the people team. Actually the captain of the national team.

Why? Because Ilsinho hates you.

ilsinho hates you https://t.co/xCht0IWuCB

– J. Sam Jones has a newsletter for MLS (@J_SamJones) January 25, 2020

Lewis Morgan

Last season’s best player on a team named Gonzalo Higuain, Rodolfo Pizzaro and Blaise Matuidi was that guy. And if you’re a this guy who goes out there and surpasses internationally known guys …

Take a bow, Lewis Morgan.

Impressive. 2-2. #MIAvNYC pic.twitter.com/hVgixWRyh8

– Major League Soccer (@MLS) October 4, 2020

… you will form the team of the people.

Morgan also handed out eight assists, good for fifth (tie) in the league. He just goes out and trades every single game. I’m glad to be able to keep trying to force you to love him until you see for yourself.

Jose Martinez

I will never forget the moment when Jose Martinez jumped into our hearts and decided to create a lovely open floor plan residence with office space, hardwood floors and lots of natural light.

A fun part of the noise without the crowd is that we all need to hear:

“DO NOT FILL JOSE.”
“HEY! DO NOT FILL JOSE !!!!”
* Martinez rattles Moralez *
“* various explanations in English and Spanish from Union Bench *” # MLSisBack #NYCvPHI pic.twitter.com/x7y2G0jDbU

– Tom Bogert (@tombogert) July 9, 2020

After that moment, Martinez was one of the 2020 additions to MLS and played a key role in Philadelphia’s run to the Supporters’ Shield. Along the way, he picked up seven yellow cards and solidified himself as the league’s top five midfielder. Martinez does enough to make you believe he’s the madman in battle without ever being the madman in battle. And that makes him a perfect defensive midfielder and a player of the people.

You will find that we are already with two Union players. Pretty much every time I do something like this, I just have to include a disclaimer that I wanted pretty much the entire team to be involved. I have to give up and choose from limited spaces and I really hope that Jack Elliott will forgive me and that one day we can still play canasta and have unique and easily disoriented body types together.

Tanner Tessmann

There’s a hole in the heart of this team. We lost Big Bad Bryan, an instrument of the team’s culture and identity. He turned to other things, but we will always have:

The 🅱️🅱️🅱️ Meme Museumpic.twitter.com/ppfFrYlwxd https://t.co/r9Vo9rmVgS

– FC Dallas (@FCDallas) March 15, 2021

Now we look to the horizon for a new FC Dallas meme that carries the banner. And it just happens that he’s very tall, can shoot 60-yard field goals with both feet, just made his first appearance on the US national team, and has a famous godfather in Dabo Sweeney. This is the year of Tanner The Tank. Because it has to be. Because it has to be. Because we want it so badly.

pic.twitter.com/fuXnaZAbel

– Dayton (@ thfc_dg12) November 23, 2020

Julian Araujo

In addition to being one of the most talented aspiring full-backs in the league, Araujo does phenomenal humanitarian work with California farm workers. THAT is work for the masses on and off the field. It is a trifecta of sympathy.

Araujo has the chance to take another leap forward under Greg Vanney this year and you should be 100% rooting him anytime.

Michael Baldisomo

A preferred choice of the good guys at Extratime and a high-trend Vancouver Academy boy who freaks out when he scores a goal. A top-notch passerby with good defensive skills in midfield, he’ll be an MLS nerd favorite for years to come … if he’s around that long anyway.

Sometimes I just sit in my house and spend the time leading up to herd immunity by saying “Baldisimo” over and over again.

Chris Mueller

A nickname like “Money Badger” AND a book club? That alone could put you on this list. But Müller is also explosive, personable, highly productive and somehow makes #MotivationMonday content attractive. Along with Daryl Dike and Ruan (who receives Honorable Mention status on this list), Mueller is a primary reason for Orlando’s unexpected transformation into one of the most exciting and entertaining teams in the league. Mueller averaged a goal contribution every 86 minutes last season and has a chance to confirm his status as one of the league’s top wingers this year.

Did I mention he has a book club?

Steve Clark

Do you remember the special thing about Jose Martinez when he appeared as the madman in a fight? Clark is actually that guy. Sometimes his goalkeeper adopts a strategy that says, “You won’t be able to know what I’ll do if I don’t”. And frankly, it’s beautiful. Especially if he can get away with it.

Once every few games, Clark has a moment in which “yes” and “no” are shouted over and over again. MLS as an entertainment product is better for this.

Cade Cowell

Large. Soccer. Human.

Are we sure Cade Cowell from San Jose is 16 years old? pic.twitter.com/j4mQgctrdi

– USMNT only (@usmntonly) September 17, 2020

Cowell is now 17 and has received regular praise from his coaches and teammates. He could add a little more to Matias Almeyda’s plans this season and that should upset you. He can do things like this:

Cade Cowell!

The 16-year-old is a direct hit at his first MLS start! 👏 #LAvSJ pic.twitter.com/tWwSpbFlR7

– Major League Soccer (@MLS) August 30, 2020

Cowell attended the US U-23 camp in January and is reportedly being followed by FC Barcelona. Just recently Chris Wondolowski said: “I have to train [with him] only a couple of times because I could barely keep up with him. I’m definitely proud of my work ethic, but the amount of work he’s done this off-season makes me very proud of him. “

Cowell is set for an outbreak sooner rather than later, and if you are a great soccer person with great potential, you will often get people’s attention.

Nouhou Tolo

So I am relying on Nouhouse’s greatest champion, Sam Stejskal from The Athletic …

In every action in every game, players are faced with a number of possibilities. Should they stay in possession with a square ball or try a low percentage killer pass? Should they sit back and block a fast lane or take on a challenge? Should they just dodge the beer can thrown at them by a rival fan? Or should they play that Heineken all the way back to Holland?

More often than most of the others, Nouhou chooses to beat this big boy.

He doesn’t always make the safe choice, but rather plays in a way that suggests that his main motivation is to have maximum pleasure in every single moment. It’s not that he doesn’t want to win – it’s often proven to be intense – it’s more that he’s not afraid to take the unconventional route to get there. There is an authenticity to this approach that I find admirable. Nouhou may not always make the right choice, but he also rarely makes the wrong one.

The true heroes of the people inspire poetry.

Dax McCarty

Some days you are that Dax.

The quarantine is going great, thank you pic.twitter.com/wFY3KSJLo1

– Dax McCarty (@ DaxMcCarty11) July 5, 2020

Some days you are that Dax.

We’re too small, but cold-blooded. Start on a low block, but hitting triggers takes us out into the field slowly to moderately. Can absolutely do it on a cold rainy night in Stoke. pic.twitter.com/NIR87fUZqW

– Dax McCarty (@ DaxMcCarty11) February 19, 2021

Some days you are that Dax.

And some days you are that Dax.

An important aspect of soccer tennis: spatial awareness. I have no. @NashvilleSC pic.twitter.com/zMpKxbfXcs

– Dax McCarty (@ DaxMcCarty11) November 23, 2020

But we’re all a kind of Dax every day. And that’s what makes us human.

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