Team of the Week (Wk 5): SKC, RSL share spoils before duel
Call it the game before the game.
Ahead of their highly anticipated battle at Livestrong Sporting Park on Saturday night (8:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online), Sporting Kansas City and Real Salt Lake waged war on the Team of the Week front for Week 5. The one ended in a tie with two players each. But if you add the Honorable Mentions, RSL pull away. Here's the rest of the latest edition of MLS' best XI.
GK: Michael Gspurning (Seattle Sounders) — The Austrian showed he's perfected the art of punching against D.C. United. Commanded his box with an iron fist. Two of them.
DF: Aurélien Collin (Sporting Kansas City) — A Defender of the Year candidate's performance against LA. SKC's physical, imposing play starts from the back with their Frenchman.
DF: Chris Wingert (Real Salt Lake) — It didn't matter who the Rapids sent down RSL's left flank. Wingert, an ex-Rapids player, was stopping everyone and everything at Rio Tinto.
DF: Ramiro Corrales (San Jose Earthquakes) — Doesn't act his age on the field. Quakes' 35-year-old captain ran up and down the left all day with spectacular tackles on defense and exquisite crossing on the other end.
DF: Emiliano Dudar (D.C. United) — Dominant performance against Seattle and Fredy Montero, one of the most dangerous forwards in MLS. Cleared every ball that landed in his vicinity.
MF: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake) — If RSL play like a well-oiled machine, Beckerman is holding the oil can. Uncanny ability to pop up in the right place at the right time and make the right decision keeps RSL ticking.
MF: Osvaldo Alonso (Seattle Sounders) — Doubled as Dwayne De Rosario's shadow on Saturday, never allowing D.C. United's attack to build up any steam.
MF: Ryan Smith (Chivas USA) — Silenced the doubters when he entered in the second half in Portland and single-handedly decided the match with two pinpoint crosses.
FW: Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes) — We're wondering the same thing: How is the most lethal finisher in MLS for a third year running allowed to be so open in the box?
FW: Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls) — Give Titi space like the Crew did and he'll carve you up mercilessly. Especially the Henry of this early season.
FW: Kei Kamara (Sporting Kansas City) — A performance deserving of an ESPN feature piece: Covered acres of space at Livestrong, scored the game-winner and gifted fans a memorable celebration.
Manager: Frank Yallop (San Jose Earthquakes) — Pulled off the move of the weekend, subbing in forward Alan Gordon and changing the face of the game against Vancouver. Down 1-0 against the best defense of 2012, the Quakes overturned the result and catapulted themselves among the elite teams of the early season.
Honorable Mentions: Tony Beltran (Real Salt Lake), Nat Borchers (Real Salt Lake), Fabián Castillo (FC Dallas), Kenny Cooper (New York Red Bulls), Logan Emory (Toronto FC), Fabian Espindola (Real Salt Lake), Roger Espinoza (Sporting Kansas City), Kevin Hartman (FC Dallas), Patrick Ianni (Seattle Sounders), Ugo Ihemelu (FC Dallas), Dejan Jakovic (D.C. United), Ante Jazic (Chivas USA), Ryan Meara (New York Red Bulls), Donovan Ricketts (Montreal Impact), Álvaro Saborío (Real Salt Lake), Shea Salinas (San Jose Earthquakes), Sinisa Ubiparipovic (Montreal Impact), Collen Warner (Montreal Impact), Marvell Wynne (Colorado Rapids), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)