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Corey Ashe (Houston Dynamo)
Ashe anchors Houston's notoriously stingy defense, which is often criticized as boring and plodding in style. But it works; Houston appeared in its second MLS Championship Game last year (losing both to the Galaxy).
Aurelien Collin (Sporting Kansas City)
Collin's play on defense for Sporting can be thrilling and entertaining and also maddening. His rare combination of size and speed gives opponents fits inside the penalty box. But he also has a penchant for getting caught out of position farther upfield and getting smoked by other team's attackers.
Omar Gonzalez (L.A. Galaxy)
Gonzalez would be easier to cheer for if he didn't play for MLS's most unlikable team. The Galaxy is like the New York Yankees; it seems to find money lying around everywhere to buy high-priced players. Good thing Gonzalez stars often for the U.S. back line, where he looks to become a mainstay for the national team's weakest position.
Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake)
Beckerman looks more like a Subway employee or a Widespread Panic roadie than one of the United States' most accomplished defensive midfielders. A somewhat less-known fact about the dreadlocked starter for Real Salt Lake: He once launched a high-end clothing line.
Tim Cahill (New York Red Bulls)
Cahill typifies one of the more annoying aspects of Major League Soccer: its habit of attracting European stars long after their prime and then endlessly marketing them. That's not to say that the Australian, who scored 56 goals for English Premier League's Everton, has been a slouch this year. With five goals and three assists, he enters the break as one of the two All-Star Game selections by MLS Commissioner Don Garber.
Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo)
For local fans, Davis' appearance at Sporting Park might be a nagging reminder of his role in Houston's twice dismantling Sporting Kansas City's MLS Cup dreams. The big-eared midfielder is one of the most underrated players in MLS, but the folks around here are well aware of how Davis can lead a suffocating midfield.
Mike Magee (Chicago Fire)
Magee was a big reason for the Galaxy's last two MLS Cup titles. He figured prominently in their lineup in their quest for a third straight championship this season, then the Galaxy inexplicably traded him to Chicago in exchange for often-injured Robbie Rogers. Since Magee's debut with one of Sporting Kansas City's bigger rivals, the Fire's moribund attack has found its spark.
Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
This isn't hometown boosterism talking: Zusi might be the best player in MLS. He has a clean, effective style that gives Sporting's often-struggling attack many of its chances. In a game at Chicago earlier this year, Zusi offered what looked to many to be a service cross to Kei Kamara in the box, but the ball kept floating past the outstretched arms of Chicago's goalkeeper for one of the stranger goals so far this season.
Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls)
Since David Beckham's departure from the Galaxy, Henry has been the rest of the world's best reminder for the existence of MLS. The former Arsenal and Barcelona legend is usually the star of the show for New York, though he does have a tendency to show up to games occasionally looking entirely disinterested in what's going on around him.
Robbie Keane (L.A. Galaxy)
Like Henry, Keane left his best playing days behind him in Europe, where he was a prominent striker for the English Premier League's Liverpool and Tottenham. Unlike Henry, Keane still plays a fair bit of international soccer for his home country (Ireland).