CONCACAF Best XI in 2021 – TMS Podcast

#2 – CONCACAF Best XI in 2021 The Mastermind Site – Podcast

In the history of the World Cup, not a single CONCACAF nation has ever reached the final, let alone won the competition. We are just under five years away from a CONCACAF-led World Cup in 2026, with all of these nations developing long term plans to do their best damage when the time ultimately comes for the competition. So with the present state of the CONCACAF scene, Rhys and Sam create their CONCACAF best eleven's and debate over some of the best players currently playing the game right now from North America. Be sure to tell us who would make your best eleven, and vote for who has the better team at themastermindsite.com. Guest: Sam The Man is a CONCACAF soccer expert, excel spreadsheet guru, and Toronto FC fan. Host: Rhys Desmond is the creator and owner of TheMastermindSite.com. He is lifelong lover and educator of the beautiful game. You can find him on Twitter @DesmondRhys. Follow TMS: @mastermindsite on Twitter and Instagram. Subscribe via email at the footer of themastermindsite.com Music: The music for this episode was provided by minwbu from Pixabay. "Min-2019".

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In the history of the World Cup, not a single CONCACAF nation has ever reached the final, let alone won the competition. We are just under five years away from a CONCACAF-led World Cup in 2026, with all of these nations developing long term plans to do their best damage when the time ultimately comes for the competition. So with the present state of the CONCACAF scene, Rhys and Sam create their CONCACAF best eleven’s and debate over some of the best players currently playing the game right now from North America in the Men’s game. Be sure to tell us who would make your best eleven, and vote for who has the better team below.


rhys’ team

goalkeeper: keylor navas

“34-years old now, still one of Ligue 1’s best goalkeepers. Still PSG’s main man in between the posts. Beyond what he’s still capable of at 34, he’s won the Champions League three times, played in four finals. One of the most decorated goalkeepers in the history of the game without getting any recognition for it. Navas was named by the IIFHS as the CONCACAF Man of the Decade for 2011-2020 and I tend to agree. He has to be the number one goalkeeper in CONCACAF right now.”

RIGHT BACK: SERGINIO DEST

“He is very good in possession of the ball. 20 years of age. Completely knocked Noussair Mazraoui out of the side Ajax, who’s a very good fullback. He’s done well…pretty good in 1v1 situations, gets forward nicely, I think he’s a very patient defender. Doesn’t ever really dive in to tackles or pick up any bookings. He just looks like a solid overall player and I think the future looks bright for him and the U.S.’s fullback train in general with Antonee Robinson on the other side.”

CENTRE BACK: JOHN BROOKS

“I think we’re both fans of Brooks. He’s been in the Bundesliga since 2013. His game has definitely matured, but he’s kind of always been a steady head at the back for his team so it’s not even like it really needed to. He’s just really good in the air and you kind of should be when you’re 6’4, but he’s still the type of centre-back that can strike fear into the opposition striker, towering over them. Pretty high in clearances consistently over the years. I would want him to play out from the back in my team and I think he can do that to some degree but it’s one of the weaknesses in his game.”

CENTRE BACK: ANDREW GRAVILLON

“First and foremost, this is what I am looking at. I can’t really go for someone older alongside Brooks like Duarte or Moreno. I want to inject a bit of pace in there. He can’t really play out from the back either, he’s much more no-nonsense but I think we’ll be okay with the central midfielders I’ve gone with. So adding a bit of pace to my team at the back and covering for the flamboyant fullbacks I have is Gravillon. He’s on loan from Inter Milan and I think he has a really bright future. Fourth in interceptions per game in Ligue 1, second most blocked shots per game. Also a big threat from set-pieces. He’s got 2 goals and 2 assists in 15 matches this season which is great from a centre-back. I don’t think we’ll ever see him in a World Cup, but I think we might see him in a half-decent Serie A or Premier League team in the future.”

LEFT BACK: ALPHONSO DAVIES

Champions League winner. FIFA World XI of 2020. Hasn’t really played as much in 2020-21 but coming back into the side a bit more. It doesn’t really matter though for what he did especially last season. Electric, skillful, charismatic. He sort of has this elegance to his play, despite being this highly electrifying player. He can pass, he can dribble, he’s developing into a good 1v1 defender and tackler of the ball, he’ll always have the pace to recover when he’s out of position. So it’s one of the clearest ones here.”

DEFENSIVE MIDFIELD: TYLER ADAMS

“I really wanted a player in here who could be versatile, who could play out from the back, who would fit alongside McKennie. He’s had two solid seasons at Leipzig, especially this one, playing in two different positions. He’s played a lot as a number six or eight, but also as a right-back or right wing back. I think he can be mobile and cover for that Davies and Dest power down the wings.”

DEFENSIVE MIDFIELD: WESTON MCKENNIE

I wasn’t a massive fan of him at Schalke, in a midfield that really got over-ran. But you’re looking at them now without McKennie and they’re the worst Bundesliga side in the history of the world! I think few would have seen McKennie as capable of playing too many different positions before this season, but he’s shown to be so versatile for Andrea Pirlo, and right and left midfield actually really suits his strengths because of how good of a dribbler he can be. He can almost be like a slightly less powerful, slightly less pacey Adama Traore, but one with a bit more end product as well. He’s got 3 goals and 2 assists is great for someone of is role in the team. He’s making my team as a central midfielder though, adding that defensive stability alongside Adams. He can be a bit overzealous in his tackling at times so he does need to clean that up a tad. He’s doing very well for a team when he’s twenty-two years old and it’s one of the best teams in the world.”

RIGHT WING: HIRVING LOZANO

I don’t think either of us would have him in here If this was last season, but Hirving Lozano is having a fantastic season this time at Napoli. He’s got 9 goals in 20 matches primarily as a right winger although he can play on the left as well. Nearly 2 tackles + interceptions per game as well so he’s important to their defensive structure and their ability to press. He’s kind of one that you can’t help but admire and I think given the struggles of certain other players who could have been chosen for this position and his importance to Mexico, I think he has to be in here.

ATTACKING MIDFIELD: JONATHAN DAVID

This is a player I’m really happy to include. He’s Canadian so there’s that but he’s also developing really well at league leading LOSC Lille side right now. He’s the man in form probably more so than anyone else we’ve talked about. He’s scored a lot of goals lately and now he’s up to 7 for the season which is very good for a 21-year old in their first season in a top five league. He’s clearly adapted well to the French league, but I also think there’s more to his game than just goals. He’s actually very good in possession in linking up with others, he just doesn’t do it often enough, but maybe that’s just how patient Lille are in their build-up than any fault of his own. I think he can play the ten role even though he hasn’t done that as much for Lille and I definitely see him as more of a second striker or a Christine Sinclair, Timo Werner type than one to be all on his own.”

LEFT WING: LEON BAILEY

“He is having a remarkable season and for a time, Leverkusen were top of the table, so it’s hard. 11 goals, 8 assists in all competitions so far, 5 of those goals in 6 matches in the Europa League which is very good. One of my biggest issues with Bailey in the past has been that he really lacks an end product. He was terrible at crossing. I mean abysmal. But he’s developing into a chance creator and I think that’s been partially without Kai Havertz in the team. Because all of his stats have skyrocketed this season. Fouls won, shots per game, take-on’s, it’s all gone up. I think his defensive contribution can be better but for now I think on form he’s the man that deserves it.”

STRIKER: RAUL JIMENEZ

“The only man for the job. He is one of the best strikers in the world. He creates, he scores, he links up immaculately well with his teammates. Good in the air. Good with his feet. Just an absolute handful for opposition defenses. I don’t think there’s many other players in the world who you take out of a side, and the team just completely falls apart and capitulates. Style of play, identity, system of play, ability to win matches, it’s all gone missing for Wolves. They’ve gone from 7th in two back to back seasons and they were on track to do maybe just slightly worse than that this season before he got injured. And Wolves can play any kind of way when he’s in the team. He’s good with his back to goal, in attacking transitions and in the air so you can put in crosses to him. And he can play any formation too. s the mobility to play on the counter, he has the ability to meet crosses in the air, he can do some intricate combinations in the final third if Wolves are looking to do that. He’s really an amazing player and I’m happy to include him in my side.”

Subs: Guillermo Ochoa (GK), Zack Steffen (GK), Hector Moreno (CB), Oscar Duarte (CB) Antonee Robinson (LB), Atiba Hutchinson (DM), Jonathan Osorio (CM), Hector Herrera (CM), Carlos Vela (RW), Bobby Decordova-Reid (RW), Giovanni Reyna (AM) Christian Pulisic (LW)

sam tm’s team

goalkeeper: keylor navas

“Just the fact that he’s playing at such a high level and has been for so long. He is one of few North Americans who you could say is in the top ten in his position and has been consistently over the last many years.”

RIGHT BACK: SERGINIO DEST

“Dest has just had a rise even quicker than Steffen’s. He was at Ajax and did very well in their Champions League run last year. And then all of a sudden Barcelona snapped him up. He basically hasn’t crossed the ball at all even though he’s an attacking fullback. He plays into their passing system well. He can play on either flank. Overall it’s been a very good rise and he was named to ESPN’s top ten right-backs in 2020.”

CENTRE BACK: JOHN BROOKS

“I think the big thing that’s improved is that he hasn’t been injured! He’s been so inconsistent because of injuries and now that he’s had a few years staying healthy his game has really improved. He’s definitely my first centre-back on the sheet.”

CENTRE BACK: hector moreno

“I had Araujo here for a long time and then I thought, I’m going to go with the safe pick and go Hector Moreno because Brooks isn’t always the most consistent. He’s so experienced. The only downside is that he’s playing at a super high level right now in Qatar.”

LEFT BACK: ALPHONSO DAVIES

“He’s so great. His defending has gotten so much better. Going forward he’s so quick. He’s so young as well. I don’t know if I would trust him still for Canada at left-back. He’s still not quite there defensively.”

DEFENSIVE MIDFIELD: TYLER ADAMS

“The biggest reason I like having Adams in this team is that he can drop back and see Dest and Davies push out and he can become a pseudo third centre-back. He’s comfortable playing in the back and very deep. He can adapt to play wherever. I remember watching him at New York Red Bulls and seeing him as a tenacious fiery player but it wasn’t really until he left that the Red Bulls really declined. He moves the ball so well. He compliments McKennie so well and I’m excited to see them play together for the U.S.!”

DEFENSIVE MIDFIELD: WESTON MCKENNIE

“I’ve been so impressed and I remember watching him at Schalke and thinking ‘he’s good. Is he that good?’ and I was very surprised when he went to Juventus. And there he was starting many of their games and getting shifted out to right wing. He can play anywhere in midfield. He’s a destroyer, very versatile, a bit overzealous like you said but if you are playing this regularly for a team this good, you’re unquestionably one of the best midfielders in CONCACAF.”

RIGHT WING: carlos vela

When Bob Bradley was his coach he challenged Vela to be the Messi of the league and he did it. You don’t often have players have a season like that in a league. He pretty much broke every record. It’s taken some time for him to really find his way but now he plays with so much flair.

ATTACKING MIDFIELD: JONATHAN DAVID

“David is very much in form. He had a slow start and then all of a sudden the numbers started coming. But I have been very impressed with his overall play and his runs off the ball. He’s very good at pulling defenders away and playing that second striker role. Doing that grunt work, he runs a lot, he gets the ball to the forward and wingers so I think the goals are a reflection of how well he’s played.”

LEFT WING: christian pulisic

“He’s doing it at the highest level. He’s been consistently one of Chelsea’s best players when fit (Rhys groans). He’s going to be the face of CONCACAF for the next ten years.”

STRIKER: raul jimenez

“I think he’s the very obvious choice. It’s very nice that Mexico have a player like him – a world class forward. That’s what could hopefully help them get past the Round of 16. It will be nice to see him in a major World Cup and see what he could do for them.”

Subs: Guillermo Ochoa (GK), Zack Steffen (GK), Jesus Manuel Corona (RB), Diego Reyes (CB), Carlos Salcedo (CB), Antonee Robinson (LB), Hector Herrera (CM), Andres Guardado (CM), Rodolfo Pizarro (AM), Giovanni Reyna (AM), Hirving Lozano (RW), Leon Bailey (LW)


VOTE: WHO HAS THE BETTER TEAM?

Vote for who has the better team at the top of the page!

Guest

Sam The Man is a CONCACAF soccer expert, excel spreadsheet guru, and Toronto FC fan.

Host

Rhys Desmond is the creator and owner of TheMastermindSite.com. He is lifelong lover and educator of the beautiful game. You can find him on Twitter @DesmondRhys. 


Thanks for reading/listening and be sure to check out more of The Mastermind Site Podcast!

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