To fashion the Major League Soccer All-Hair Team, we meticulously considered the coiffures of each and every player who took the pitch for all 20 MLS squads during the 2015 season. To maximize objectivity, we developed a precise, scientific rating system involving complex algorithms and meta-data analytics that would make the National Security Agency drool. But, of course, there’s a subjective element as well. When it comes to a top-shelf hairdo, “You know it when you see it,” as US Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart might say. For our final determinations, the selection committee used three key criteria:
The Hair-Itself-Doesn’t-Cut-It Factor
A splendid coif is necessary but not sufficient. If you’re not logging serious minutes on the pitch, then you have yourself an All-Hair Team glitch. Sincere apologies to Maximiliano Urruti, Marlon Hairston, and Chance Myers – brilliant hair (and in Hairston’s case, promising surname), but not quite enough playing time, amigos.
The ‘Sorry Ronaldo’ Factor
As astonishing as this might sound, sometimes hair can be just a little too fetching. Many MLS players come in with raw hair talent but fail to properly develop it with dollop of daring or a dash of panache. Classically attractive Casanovas with attractive yet unambitious hairdos can’t make the cut (ahem). That means no Sebastian Giovinco, Nicolás Mezquida, Donovan Ricketts, or Robbie Rogers. Sorry, fellas!
The First-Come-First-Serve Factor
Originality matters. Standard-issue long locks with zero zip or zing need not apply. We’re looking at you, Mix Diskerud, Michael Harrington, Mauro Rosales, and Graham Zusi.
So, drumroll, please…here are this year’s picks!
Perusing the hairstyles of MLS goalkeepers is like attending a style convention for button-up bankers. It’s a bland-o-rama. A cacophony of conservative coiffures. In Latin, they’d call it “Boringus Majorus.” More to the point, it’s a festival of squandered opportunity.
C’mon MLS netminders! Time to step up your hair game! How about a classic Tony Meola mullet? A Marcus Hahnemann mystery goatee? Something! (On the bright side, the goalkeepers’ curious dearth of follicular flair opened up an additional field-player slot on the all-hair squad).
Nat Borchers (Portland Timbers)
The Hair Gods giggled with glee when Borchers was traded to the Portland Timbers where a bearded, chainsaw-wielding mascot with mad axe skills named Timber Joey stalks the stadium. Mathematically speaking, Borchers + Portland = a match made in Hair Heaven. Haters might call him Osama bin Borchers, but hey, haters gonna hate and Borchers’ beard looks great!
Brek Shea (Orlando City SC)
In the Kingdom of Hair, Brek Shea reigns with an untamable golden mane. Somewhere far, far away, the ghost of Rapunzel pines for his dirty blond locks. Closer to home, Orlando City SC would do well to hold onto “The Rooster” — a nickname coined for his ambitious coif — should the club wish to build from its auspicious inaugural campaign and climb above the red line in 2016.
Kendall Waston (Vancouver Whitecaps)
Waston has emerged as one of the league’s toughest defenders, but he’s even more formidable when his hair game is on. When the towering figure dies the crest of his pate a burnished orange and ups the ante with a beard of equal length, he achieves the nirvana-like state of perfect hair equilibrium. Colorwise, the dye-job is an obvious tribute to the 11 yellow cards and 1 red card Watson accumulated this season, second only to Marco Donadel, “The Butcher of Montreal.” Keep on hackin’ in the free world, gents, but, Mr. Watson, please don’t hack off the hair.
Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake)
An MLS All-Hair Team without Kyle Beckerman is like an artisan bread loaf without yeast: flat, bland, and tasteless. It’s like selecting a US World Cup team without Landon Donovan (oops … er … anyhoo). Real Salt Lake needs to make some bold moves in the off-season, but Beckerman’s locks ought to be untouchable.
Jermaine Jones (New England Revolution)
The dreadlocked love-fest known as Jermaine Jones’s hair is a gravity-free bouncy house flecked in gold. His hairdo has so much personality that the German-born designated player and US National Team fixture never dines alone. “Table for two please, for me and my phenomenal hair.”
Diego Chara (Portland Timbers)
Chara has an impressive passing accuracy percentage in the mid-to-high eighties, but his immaculate rows of impeccable braids achieve a Hair Accuracy Rating of 100 percent. Plus, brainpower lurks beneath the locks. He once dubbed the 2014 World Cup “an excessive expense” with money misspent on “building and fixing up new stadiums” instead of the Brazil’s “difficulties with poverty and health.” The man with beyond-sensible hair makes a lot of sense. Just ask Timbers fans — they picked Chara to win the Timbers Army 2015 Supporters Player of the Year award.
Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution)
Nguyen has long dazzled Revolution fans with his pace and creativity, but with his shock of peroxided hair in flippy-flop mode, he has also captured the hearts of hair connoisseurs everywhere. Born in McKinney, Texas, Nguyen speaks fluent Vietnamese and conversational Spanish, but he has most assuredly learned the secret language of superb hair-primping as well.
Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy)
Zardes’s hairdo is a splendid splash of SoCal sun and sparkle. And he gets bonus points for sporting a ‘do that respects his elders. As Zardes described it, “The reason why I color it blond is because my grandparents attend the games and they have bad eyesight, so they wouldn’t know who I am unless I had a blond stripe on my head. So, they can easily spot me out and be like ‘that’s Gyasi’.” Awwww!
Dominic Oduro (Montreal Impact)
If anyone emanates the zest required to make the all-hair team, it’s Dominic Oduro. Famous for dying a slice of pizza into the side of his dome, Oduro consistently changes up his hairstyle, and always in dramatic fashion. When Oduro struts by the local chicken coop in Quebec, roosters bristle with envy. The man has pizzazz.
Devon Sandoval (Real Salt Lake)
Sandoval’s pate proffers a copious garden of fluff-a-luscious curls, the follicular gift that keeps on giving. Carles Puyol, the Barcelona FC legend and Spanish stalwart of international hair fame, take note: this is the glory you could have achieved had you gone au natural instead of au product. If anyone in the league has Carlos Valderrama hair potential, it’s Sandoval. Think about it, Devon!
Kei Kamara (Columbus Crew)
Kamara’s glorious dreadlock bun fires from his scalp like wild flowers reaching for the sun. It’s Buju Banton-esque with a braid bouquet as exclamation point, and it has served Kamara well: with 22 goals and eight assists he came up just shy of winning the Golden Boot, only surpassed by the superlative season of Sebastian Giovinco.
Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado Rapids)
It’s not every day an MLS coach’s facial hair inspires a hashtag or a Twitter handle, but that’s exactly what happened when Pablo Mastroeni embarked on the 2015 MLS campaign with a magnificent handlebar mustache (see #Pablostache and @pablostache). Here’s a man who understands the deeper meaning of facial hair: “The mustache is symbolic of a rite of passage,” he revealed to the Denver Post. Midseason, Mastroeni made an inexplicable fashion faux pas, shaving the #Pablostache. Bring it back, Pablo! And in the meantime, perhaps a Guy Fawkes mask would suffice, especially after Colorado’s Western Conference bottom-feeding season.
Jessi Wahnetah assisted with research for this article.
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