New England Revolution Best XI 2012 (as chosen by The Bent Musket staff)

Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE

As a season wrap-up exercise, The Bent Musket staff chooses and discusses their preferred starting XI from the 2012 season. Check out who we felt were the best options this past season and who we chose to omit as well. You might just find a few surprises.

With the Revolution's 2012 season now firmly in the rear-view, we here at The Bent Musket decided to reflect on the season and each select our favorite starting XI from this past year. It wasn't the easiest task, but a fun an interesting exercise nevertheless. Selections include one goalkeeper, four defenders, four midfielders, two forwards, and three bench players. Have a look at our lineups and then tell us your Best XI in the comments!

Corey:

GK - Bobby Shuttleworth

DEF - Kevin Alston, A.J. Soares, Stephen McCarthy, Darrius Barnes

MID - Lee Nguyen, Clyde Simms, Ryan Guy, Diego Fagundez

FWD - Saer Sene, Jerry Bengton

Subs - Kelyn Rowe, Chris Tierney, Fernando Cardenas

Two players that had to be included in my Best XI were Bobby Shuttleworth and Darrius Barnes. Both players had to fight their way into the first team, pushing others for minutes and playing time, and I think that the Revs were better defensively because of it. As a part of a squad looking to improve as a whole, these two showed that the best way to make that happen is to improve as individuals first. Tierney on the bench because of his consistency this season, and I do think he played admirably as LB for basically the whole season (having really never played on the back-line very much in the past)-just wish his set-piece efficiency didn't fall off so much.

As for the midfield, despite having a plethora of options, my favorite lineup included the four players who were the most impactful, in my opinion. I kept Cardenas and Rowe on the bench because they are both players that I wish has offered more this season. Rowe had rookie growing pains to overcome and Cardenas had issues with his decision-making under pressure. As for Fagundez, despite playing as a forward for most of his appearances, I really liked what I saw from him as a midfielder towards the end of the season.

Saer Sene needs no justification, but Jerry Bengtson perhaps does. The Honduran may not have been the most consistent this season, but I have faith in him in 2013. I believe he will prove to be a valuable asset once he has a pre-season under his belt and is able to better acclimate to MLS, and I think he and Sene are going to be a dangerous partnership if they can get on the same page.

Steve:

GK - Bobby Shuttleworth

DEF - Kevin Alston, Darrius Barnes, Stephen McCarthy, Chris Tierney

MID - Lee Nguyen, Clyde Simms, Kelyn Rowe, Ryan Guy

FWD - Saer Sene, Diego Fagundez

Subs - Matt Reis, A.J. Soares, Fernando Cardenas

There are a couple of interesting decisions made here, but upon further review of the stats and personal recollections, they make sense. Bobby Shuttleworth may have made fewer appearances than Matt Reis, but the cold fact is that he was more effective as a goalkeeper than Reis. He had a GAA half that of Matt's, and a better save percentage despite making slightly fewer saves per match, and no one can argue with his improvement as an aerial presence.

The other controversial call is leaving A.J. Soares on the bench. Soares has a bright future in this defense, but this season he was far too up and down to really think of him as one of the team's best. McCarthy put a mediocre start behind him to become the team's top defender, while Darrius Barnes took his chance to start and became a guy you can't take off the team sheet. Alston reinvented himself on the left, and Tierney was arguably the most solid and consistent of all of them; honestly, there's no room for Soares in this year's starting XI.

Matty:

GK - Bobby Shuttleworth

DEF - Kevin Alston, AJ Soares, Darrius Barnes, Stephen McCarthy

MID - Lee Nguyen, Clyde Simms, Kelyn Rowe, Benny Feilhaber

FWD - Saer Sene, Diego Fagundez

Subs - Matt Reis, Chris Tierney, Fernando Cardenas

I absolutely agree about Shuttleworth. The team just seemed little more cohesive, a little more organized, and I think that has a lot to do with Bobby's strong communication. His aerial presence was a revelation as well, and down the stretch he had a chance to show off his shot blocking ability as well.

In the defense, it's Tierney who is the odd man out. Leaving AJ Soares out of the team's best XI just doesn't seem right to me. After reviewing a few highlights, you forget that on more than a few occasions, Macca's inexperience left AJ out to dry on an island. Darrius earns this spot after a phenomenal final month of the season where he finally got a chance to showcase his skills. Stephen McCarthy had a stretch of games in midseason where he was the team's best CB after a rocky acclimation period.

In the midfield, again, no Revs best XI should be without Feilhaber, regardless of how you view him. He is still the team's best midfielder (yes, better than Nguyen) and deserves to be a part of ANY XI in this organization. Clyde Simms was the smooth, technical leader in the CDM role all year long, and will hopefully rejoin the squad in 2013. While there was more than a fair share of rookie growing pains for Rowe, I gave him the nod over Cardenas due to his consistency. Rowe had a few nice games where he changed the course of the match, and as he heads into his first professional offseason, he can only continue to get better. Lastly, of course, is team MVP Lee Nguyen who proved to be a major cog in this machine going forward.

Saer Sene was a wonderful acquisition to this team in 2012 and its a shame he missed most of the final weeks due to injury. Double-digit goals, and a knack for creating chances off the dribble, the Frenchman has a chance to become the team's best striker since you-know-who. His partner? Unbelievably, it's the teenager. I've NEVER gushed about Diego-mania like a lot of others, but today, I am. What a nice, young player, and what an impact he had on the team. While he may end up seeing the pitch more as a midfielder, there's no denying how the game changed when Diego Fagundez was in the match and running at defenders. Hopefully, we see more of the faux-hawked one in 2013.

So who would you select as your favorite starting XI from 2012? Let us know in the comments below and tell us why you chose who you chose!

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