TACOMA, WASH.– MLS NEXT Pro today announced its 2022 Best XI, the first annual list recognizing the league’s top players at each position, with Tacoma Defiance’s Marlon Vargas voted to one of the four midfield spots. All awards were voted on by the Head Coaches and Chief Soccer Officers of MLS NEXT Pro clubs, as well as league-wide broadcasters and content producers.
“Congratulations to Marlon for his achievement,” said Sounders FC Vice President of Player Development Henry Brauner. “His loyalty to the club and his relentless desire to improve since he was in the academy is now being recognized on a professional level. This is his first Best XI as a professional, but it certainly won’t be his last.”
Vargas, who entered Sounders FC Academy in 2016, enjoyed a breakout year in 2022, his fifth season on the squad. The Salvadoran led Tacoma with 12 goals and six assists, including a streak of scoring seven goals in six games, appearing in 23 of 24 matches while captaining the team on multiple occasions. His goal and assist totals are both tied for seventh overall in all of MLS NEXT Pro. Vargas’ impressive season began even before the regular season kicked off as the midfielder appeared on the bench for a pair of friendlies with the El Salvador national team last December.
“We are so proud of Marlon for earning this award,” said Tacoma Defiance Head Coach Wade Webber. “He was part of successful teams in our academy and is truly ‘one of us.’ He has had a statistically excellent year in terms of his contributions to our attack, but his willingness to work for the team when we don’t have the ball is even more impressive. He has been a force multiplier for us this season. We couldn’t be happier for him and are eager to see what his future holds.”
After locking up the second seed in the Western Conference, Tacoma Defiance (14-6-4, 49 points) prepares to host Houston Dynamo 2 in the Western Conference Semifinals on Sunday, September 25 at Starfire Stadium (7:30 p.m. PT / mlsnextpro.com).
2022 MLS NEXT PRO BEST XI
GOALKEEPER: Patrick Schulte (Columbus Crew 2)
DEFENDERS: Mo Farsi (Columbus Crew 2), Kyle Hiebert (St Louis CITY2), Talen Maples (Houston Dynamo 2)
MIDFIELDERS: Pedro Dolabella (Rochester New York FC), Aziel Jackson (MNUFC2), Isaiah Parente (Columbus Crew 2), Marlon Vargas (Tacoma Defiance)
FORWARDS: Bernard Kamungo (North Texas SC), Jack Lynn (Orlando City B), Jacen Russell-Rowe (Columbus Crew 2)