Crew SC's rise this season has been a team effort, but two players stood out to be recognized by the league and were named to the MLS Best XI for the 2015 season. Kei Kamara and Ethan Finlay's outstanding play were recognized
In his first season back with Crew SC, he slotted right into the lineup and had a career year. His 22 goals was tied for the league lead and he also added eight assists to be an all-around threat for Columbus. Kamara's blend of skill and athleticism were a perfect fit for a team that looked to spread the ball around and then cross centrally.
Crew SC had struggled mightily at forward in 2014. Adam Bedell, Aaron Schoenfeld, and Jairo Arrieta combined for 10 goals and two assists. None of the players meshed with the offense consistently. Kamara came in and started well with three goals in his first five games, but heated up through the summer as he made the MLS All-Star Game. He had six two-goal games and four more games where he notched a goal and an assist.
Finlay broke out in 2014 and followed it up with a career year. He was one of four players to get double digits in both goals and assists in 2015, joining Sebastian Giovinco, Benny Feilhaber, and Clint Dempsey on that elite list. Finlay's 12 goals was the second highest tally for Columbus. His 13 assists led the team and was the fifth most in MLS this season.
Few are faster in MLS on the ball than Finlay, but this year he's improved his decision making on and off the ball. He gets into the right positions to stretch teams that want to press Crew SC. His partnership with right back Harrison Afful makes the right side of Columbus one of the most feared in MLS. Left backs stay up at night thinking of ways to contain the speedy winger.
Kamara and Finlay are the eighth and ninth Crew SC players to be named to the MLS Best XI and the first to make the list since Chad Marshall received the honor in 2009. They join Thomas Dooley, Stern John, Robin Fraser, Robbie Rogers, Jeff Cunningham, Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Chad Marshall, and Brad Friedel. Dooley, Barros Schelotto, and Marshall were named to the Best XI twice.
The full 2015 MLS Best XI:
Goalkeeper - Luis Robles (New York Red Bulls)
Defender - Laurent Ciman (Montreal Impact)
Defender - Kendall Waston (Vancouver Whitecaps FC)
Defender - Matt Hedges (FC Dallas)
Midfielder - Benny Feilhaber (Sporting Kansas City)
Midfielder - Fabian Castillo (FC Dallas)
Midfielder - Dax McCarty (New York Red Bulls)
Midfielder - Ethan Finlay (Columbus Crew SC)
Forward - Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto FC)
Forward - Kei Kamara (Columbus Crew SC)
Forward - Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy)