They came, you voted, they conquered. After EA FC announced the Team of the Year nominees earlier this month, users from around the world selected their top XI. And this year, there’s two new Teams of the Year in EA FC 24, one for men and one for women, and you can’t help but feel we’ve officially reached a changing of the guard in many respects.
There’s the obvious, outward elements of that, of course. This is the first year that EA FC has taken on that name after its split with FIFA, and it’s also the first time a full women’s Team of the Year appears alongside the men. But beyond that, it feels like we’re on the precipice of leaving behind an era of stars.
Cristiano Ronaldo is once again absent from this list, and it feels like Lionel Messi, magic as he is, might not be far behind. Gone too are so many of the players who defined the women’s game over the past decade and more, like Megan Rapinoe and so much of the once-dominant USWNT.
The lists aren’t bereft of veterans, but the winds of change are blowing, and the fan votes reflect it.
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Men’s TOTY runs on Manchester City
Representative of their dominance in nominations, the spine of this TOTY is almost completely made up of Manchester City players. City has representatives in the center of the field at every line save goalkeeper, where Liverpool’s Alisson beat out Ederson. Bar that, Rúben Dias and Kevin De Bruyne return to the TOTY XI, and Rodri joins his teammate in the midfield.
And up top? The long-awaited crowning of Erling Haaland. He had an utterly perfect scoring record of 50 goals in 50 Premier League appearances for Manchester City over the past 1½ years, in addition to 17 goals in 16 Champions League matches. There’s been plenty of jokes about Haaland’s rise since his Dortmund days that the big Norwegian striker is the closest we’ll get to the Terminator, but his machine-like excellence only seems to drive us closer to that truth.
His most recent injury troubles only gives him an excuse to use the tagline: He’ll be back.
The World’s Best XIs, chosen by you.
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When Messi wins, MLS wins
Messi being part of the Team of the Year isn’t a surprise; what is a little stranger is seeing Inter Miami tagged next to his name. Such is life in 2024. Messi and his successes are going to be compounded with MLS’ success in luring stars to the United States. Accordingly, he’s the first MLS player to ever appear in a TOTY for the long-running game franchise.
And, funnily enough, Messi’s inclusion also adds a small measure of legitimacy to the sometimes-maligned Leagues Cup. While MLS might not be able to get away with leaving the U.S. Open Cup to focus on their dalliance with Liga MX, they do get the satisfaction of knowing Messi’s magical start to his life in Miami and run to a slew of awards was at least in part accomplished because of the Leagues Cup existence.
Because if the Leagues Cup didn’t exist, Messi couldn’t score 10 goals in it and win a trophy in his first try with Miami. Coincidentally, it’s also Miami’s first trophy as a team. MLS and Apple gave up a lot to acquire Messi; now, they have a video game honor to show for it!
EA FC 24 Men’s Team of the Year: Alisson (Liverpool); Jeremie Frimpong (Bayer Leverkusen), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool), Rúben Dias (Manchester City), Theo Hernández (AC Milan); Jude Bellingham (Real Madrid), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Rodri (Manchester City); Kylian Mbappé (PSG), Erling Haaland (Manchester City), Lionel Messi (Inter Miami)
Barcelona Femení steal the show
There might not be quite as many members of Spain’s World Cup-winning squad represented in this TOTY as you might expect, but that didn’t stop Barcelona from still running away with the most nods to the XI. The Spanish trio of Ona Batlle, Aitana Bonmati, and Alexia Putellas are joined by their Norwegian teammate Caroline Graham Hansen to double the next-closest club in terms of spots on TOTY (Chelsea, courtesy of Sam Kerr and Millie Bright).
Similar to Manchester City on the men’s side, Barcelona ran the table in Europe last year, taking home their own treble alongside a World Cup trophy for Bonmati. And it was about as good as it can get on the field for the midfielder, who also added the Golden Ball at the World Cup as the tournament’s best player.
Smith the only American, NWSL representative
My, how the mighty have fallen. The all-conquering U.S. teams that won back-to-back World Cups in 2015 and 2019 might have had several inclusions in years past, but it’s a lone member of the USWNT’s new guard that appears here: Sophia Smith.
With players such as Rapinoe retired and others, including Alex Morgan, likely to be phased out of their starting roles as they enter the twilight years of their careers during the next World Cup cycle, it’s up to players such as Smith to right the ship for the U.S. and return the team to its once-lofty position on the world stage.
The good news? Smith is really, really good, and needing to build around her is one of the better problems a coach can have. Luckily for the U.S., they just so happened to hire one of England’s best in Emma Hayes to do it. And it looks like she’s already begun the process of making Smith the focal point of the U.S. attack.
EA FC 24 Women’s Team of the Year: Mary Earps (Manchester United); Ona Batlle (FC Barcelona), Wendie Renard (Lyon), Millie Bright (Chelsea), Sakina Karchaoui (PSG); Aitana Bonmatí (FC Barcelona), Alexia Putellas (FC Barcelona), Lena Oberdorf (VfL Wolfsburg); Caroline Graham Hansen (FC Barcelona), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns), Sam Kerr (Chelsea)