Welcome to part two of the MLS 11, where we rank the top five MLS players at every position. Today's position? Center-back. Want to read the first part of this series? Click here for the goalkeeper edition. Without further ado, let's get into it!

1. Matt Hedges, FC Dallas

After being named the 2016 MLS defender of the year, big things were expected of Matt Hedges in 2017. There is no doubt, he has followed up his fantastic 2016 campaign with a brilliant beginning to the 2017 season. Hedges is excellent in the air, putting in consistent, strong arial challenges. He also excels at shutting down grounded oncoming attackers. Now that his center-back partner Walker Zimmerman is back from injury, the rest of MLS will need to watch out for Matt Hedges and the FC Dallas back line.

2. Jelle Van Damme, LA Galaxy

Unfortunately for Galaxy fans, this season has been a disaster. Head Coach Curt Onalfo was fired just over a week ago and replaced with an MLS mainstay, Sigi Schmid. Their squad has also been ravaged by injury. Sebastian Lleget has missed the entire season and Jermaine Jones has missed several games as well. Looking past the coaching change and the injuries, LA Galaxy fans can take solace in the steady performances of Jelle Van Damme. He is a physically imposing, technically gifted center-back who gets the job done. Van Damme has seen a few too many cards for fans' liking, but the Belgian is an absolute necessity in the back for LA.

3. Ike Opara, Sporting Kansas City

Not many teams have a player like Ike Opara. Opara grew up playing as a striker, before ultimately moving to center-back, where he has clearly flourished. He has great power, a consistent work rate, and fantastic athleticism. These traits allow him to provide a significant boost to the SKC attack; from bicycle kicks to monstrous headers, Ike can bang a goal in when needed. Ike Opara is truly one of the most rounded, and most talented, players in the entire league.

4. Matt Besler, Sporting Kansas City

One of the standouts in a Gold Cup win for the United States Men's National Team, Matt Besler has been dominating at both club and international level. At the Gold Cup, USMNT Manager Bruce Arena found out what Sporting Kansas City fans already knew: Matt Besler is the real deal. Besler is an intelligent center-back, who rarely makes any mistakes in the defensive third of the field. He is a calming, veteran presence for his club, capable of settling the ball on nearly every play. Matt Besler and Ike Opara make up one of the best center-back pairings in all of Major League Soccer.

5. Laurent Ciman, Montreal Impact

The second Belgian on this list, Laurent Ciman has been a common fixture on the Belgian national team for years. Simply put, Ciman is everything a center-back should be. Physically, he is a strong, tall, athletic player. Technically, he is a disciplined, intelligent defender capable of removing any ball around him with a thunderous clearance. Laurent Ciman has been the focal point of Montreal's back line for several years; Impact fans could not ask for anything more.

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Published by Joseph Lowery