MLSsoccer.com Team of the Week: Week 26
It's hard to ignore another convincing D.C. United road performance in which they anihillated Chivas USA on the counter and showed composure and grit in keeping their shape and withstanding the Goats' offensive. And if you include manager Ben Olsen, that makes for five United representatives on this edition of the MLSsoccer.com Team of the Week.
LA Galaxy midfielder Paolo Cardozo, who is not a regular for his club, is the surprise package of the best XI this week, and he is joined by another youngster in Gershon Koffie, who also left a mark on the Big Apple with his Whitecaps squad. Along with the Uruguayan and Ghanaian, Canadian star Dwayne De Rosario is the only other non-American player to make the cut.
Meanwhile, US fans could one day see this forward line on the national team level with three Americans selected.
GK: Matt Pickens (Colorado Rapids) – Singlehandedly kept Colorado in the game vs. LA with numerous impressive stops against a Galaxy team playing at its best.
DF: Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy) – The single source of frustration for Caleb Folan and the Rapids forward crew with his ability to step up and anticipate plays.
DF: James Riley (Seattle Sounders) – An inspired performance on the right flank on both sides of the ball. Equally effective when the Sounders went down to 10 men and a three-man back line.
DF: Perry Kitchen (D.C. United) – Even though Chivas USA are not the fastest of teams down the left wing, Kitchen handled everything thrown his way by the Goats with calm and authority.
MF: Gershon Koffie (Vancouver Whitecaps) – The 20-year-old continues his string of positive performances, rising to the occasion in one of the Whitecaps' most high-profile matches of the season at Red Bull Arena.
MF: Graham Zusi (Sporting KC) – Bossed the midfield with authority against Houston. He was all over the field, willing his team forward and handling defensive and attacking responsibilities with personality.
MF: Dwayne De Rosario (D.C. United) – Moving back into midfield against Chivas USA, he was equally decisive for United with clear ideas whenever the team launched their counterattack.
MF: Paolo Cardozo (LA Galaxy) – Shining light for the LA Galaxy in the 1-0 win over Colorado and the primary reason the league leaders played some of their best soccer on the night. His dribbling skills, quick passing and eye for goal add a different dimension to LA’s attack.
FW: Chris Pontius (D.C. United) – Likely his last time on the Team of the Week this year after a leg fracture suffered against Chivas USA. His three assists as a converted forward looked promising but United will have to wait a while for an encore.
FW: Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes) – Willed his team to its first win in 13 matches. He contributed a goal, an assist and plenty of dedicated runs and patented first-time shots at goal.
FW: Charlie Davies (D.C. United) – His hat trick of goals may have been the simple variety, but a striker in position to score goals deserves great credit. It’s the movement and work he put in that impressed his manager the most.
Manager: Ben Olsen (D.C. United) – After a long break in the schedule and a cross-country trip, Olsen showed tactical flexibility in the middle of a playoff race. He shifted his pieces around with success, pushing Pontius into a forward slot and moving De Rosario to midfield. It made for an efficient counterattacking triumvirate which earned three critical road points for DC.
Honorable Mentions: Darrius Barnes (New England Revolution), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Teal Bunbury (Sporting Kansas City), Davide Chiumiento (Vancouver Whitecaps), Charlie Davies (D.C. United), Julian de Guzman (Toronto FC), Jay DeMerit (Vancouver Whitecaps), Fabián Espíndola (Real Salt Lake), Roger Espinoza (Sporting Kansas City), Eric Hassli (Vancouver Whitecaps), Daniel Hernandez (FC Dallas), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Will Johnson (Real Salt Lake), Sébastien Le Toux (Philadelphia Union), Rajko Lekic (New England Revolution), Tim Ream (New York Red Bulls), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake), Mauro Rosales (Seattle Sounders), Camilo Sanvezzo (Vancouver Whitecaps), Andy Williams (Real Salt Lake), Marvell Wynne (Colorado Rapids)