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Now that 2014 is officially here, it’s time to honor 2013’s top American players playing club ball abroad.  Who rounds out the starting eleven?

According to Major League Soccer, there’s really no uniform way of evaluating the players but to level the playing field, they always take “team impact” into account.  This factor allows “… second-flight standouts a more equitable chance for recognition.  Despite the handicap, only two players from lower leagues were able to break into 2013’s best XI. 

GK - Brad Guzan, Aston Villa

This pick surely took everyone by surprise.  You expected to see Timmy between the posts and you’d certainly have a formidable argument.  However, MLS took Guzan’s strong end of the year finish heavily into account when making their decision.  Although Howard made a meal of wins, shutouts, and cup damage, Guzan actually finished ahead of the United States number 1 in “…saves, defensive gaffes covered, Man of the Match awards and, most notably, team Player of the Year prizes.”  America is blessed with the problem of having multiple strong goalkeepers.  Make your case for Tim Howard all you like, Major League Soccer gave Brad Guzan of Aston Villa the nod for 2013. 

D - Geoff Cameron, Stoke City

It’s been an interesting year for Cameron to say the least.  He is proving to be a dangerous player in multiple positions but Major League Soccer wanted to acknowledge Cameron for his tenacious play at right back in 2013.  Look for Cameron to continue with his good run of form in 2014 in the run up to the World Cup this summer.

D - Tim Ream, Bolton

Give the man some serious props.  Tim Ream is the only player in the starting XI to have played all of 2013 in the second division of English footy.  However, despite the spot he earned, most of the votes acknowledge his strong start to 2013 – not so much for the way he finished the year.  According to MLS, “He had a handful of decent starts as left back and defensive midfielder this year, but the former Red Bulls center back has been right near all-league form at his favored position since September.”

D - John Anthony Brooks, Hertha BSC

Brooks had a stellar 2013.  As a prodigal member of Berlin’s back line, Brooks spent most of 2013 obtaining the second-division title.  This effectively promoted the club to the Bundesliga, Germany’s top tier of professional football.  In his first nine games playing in Germany’s top flight, Brooks has been a bit shaky but overall, MLS was pleased with his efforts and felt he deserved a spot in America’s squad.

D - Fabian Johnson, Hoffenheim

Major League Soccer was impressed with Johnson’s versatile play in 2013.  He earned praise for his time spent at left back for Hoffenheim during the calendar year but Johnson was more content adding a flanking mid field role to his arsenal as well.  Like many athletes, there were a few ups and downs but overall, the US international offered more positive contributions to his side than negatives.  His 2013 cannot be denied.

M - Jermaine Jones, Schalke

Jones had a very good 2013.  On the international stage, Jones often wowed and worried American fans with his style of play.  At Schalke, however, the midfielder remained fairly consistent.  “Jones regularly started for a top-five caliber Bundesliga team, offering plenty of hearty tackles and transition play.”  While a transfer looks almost all but certain for Jones during the January transfer window, expect to see Jones continue his form heading into Brazil this summer no matter which team wants to pay the American for his services.

M - Sacha Kljestan, Anderlecht

Kljestan has always eluded the American radar.  He’s always been quite a bright player but year after year, he seems to slip under the radar.  It's great to see Major League Soccer give credit where credit is due.  Kljestan bagged 10 goals in 2013 and became a R.S.C. Anderlecht regular.  He also became a much more well rounded player and was able to notch a crucial assist against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champion’s League, adding to “…his American record for career assists in European Cup play.”

United States midfielder Sacha Kljestan, who was enjoying the best start of a season in his professional career at Anderlecht, has been reportedly been treated for pre-cancer spots on his face.

According to DHNet and Het Laatste Nieuws, the former Chivas USA star noticed several spots on his face and began questioning what was going on. Realizing it was more than just a sign of possible bumps or moles, Kljestan immediately acted on what was going on with his condition as doctors caught the early signs of the condition to prevent any long term ramifications.