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Buddle or Donovan, but probably not both

It’s simple to say that Galaxy striker Edson Buddle and midfielder/forward Landon Donovan deserve spots on Major League Soccer’s Best XI all-league team. They’re the only Galaxy players who belong.

Don’t count on both of them being there.

Balloting for the team and all the individual awards wrapped up Monday, and the problem area was the Best XI ballot -- it’s far too regimented, and as a result at least one and possibly two players who deserve the honor will have to go without.

Donovan has played up top on occasion for L.A. this season, but he’s primarily been used as a wide midfielder -- on the right until David Beckham’s arrival, on the left since -- with the freedom to move wherever he sees fit to go. The Galaxy have been a more effective team when he’s in midfield, and as the primary creator and inspirational force, he’s the most important element in the club’s success this season.

As I filled out my ballot for the awards, I had Donovan listed as my No. 2 midfielder, behind FC Dallas’ David Ferreira. The league’s ballot has Donovan as a forward; voters can leave him there or leave him off, but they can’t put him in midfield.

San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski, who made a strong late charge for the MVP award (and just eclipsed Buddle for the Golden Boot) also played more of the season in midfield than he did up top. I had him as my No. 3 midfielder. MLS, on its ballot, has him as a forward.

There are a lot of good midfielders out there, but the toughest decision for voters is which two forwards to include. Donovan, Wondolowski and Buddle are league MVP candidates. So are Real Salt Lake’s Alvaro Saborio, Colorado’s Omar Cummings and Seattle’s Fredy Montero. All are forwards.

Philadelphia’s Sebastien Le Toux, who played at forward and in midfield, also is an MVP candidate. MLS has listed him as a midfielder.

It’s an easy process if you have the option of including Donovan and Wondolowski as midfielders. Add in Ferreira, Le Toux and FC Dallas’ Daniel Hernandez, and -- voila! -- you’re done. Buddle and either Saborio or Cummings then get the forward slots, and you’ve got a front seven that makes a lot of sense. (I’d still like to find a spot for Seattle winger Steve Zakuani in that group, but can’t have everything.)

Our guess is Buddle and Wondolowski get the spots up front. My votes went to Donovan and Wondolowski, and it kills me, because Buddle absolutely belongs on the Best XI. But I think Donovan was the Galaxy’s most important player, and that’s why I voted for him in the team’s MVP balloting, which Buddle won.