Team of the Week (Wk 8): When stars step aside
The league's elite forwards have commanded plenty of attention in the opening quarter of the season, and how could they not? The likes of Chris Wondolowski and Thierry Henry started the season on a tear. But on this particular weekend, we were reminded that they, too, are only human.
Luckily for them and their respective teams, their teammates stepped up to the task and secured important wins, for which those less-talked about players earned spots in the Team of the Week. Marvin Chávez and Steven Lenhart keyed another late Earthquakes win, while Dax McCarty and Ryan Meara relieved much of the pressuer on an injury-riddled Red Bulls side.
The weekend also saw Will Bruin and Maicon Santos each score two goals in a shootout at RFK Stadium to continue their surprising starts to the season. The infrequently used Eric Avila made his case for more playing time at Toronto FC with a sterling display in a loss to Real Salt Lake, while solid, defensive performances from Matteo Ferrari and Young-Pyo Lee keyed wins for the other two Canadian sides.
GK: Ryan Meara (New York Red Bulls) — Made five saves (including a pair of Save of the Week candidates) that kept a clean sheet behind an undermanned Red Bulls backline.
DF: Young-Pyo Lee (Vancouver Whitecaps) — Marshaled yet another strong defensive effort from the ‘Caps and this time added a goal. It may have been somewhat fortuitous, but it nonetheless led to a road win for Vancouver.
DF: Matteo Ferrari (Montreal Impact) — The Italian’s class showed as he was nearly unbeatable in the center of defense and assure in distribution as the Impact earned their first MLS clean sheet.
DF: George John (FC Dallas) — Two solid 90 minutes shifts against two of the league’s best forward pairings in Álvaro Saborío-Fabián Espíndola and Edson Buddle-Robbie Keane. Slightly slow to react on RSL’s midweek goal, but was not helped by his teammates, either.
MF: Marvin Chávez (San Jose Earthquakes) — Provided a jolt to San Jose’s struggling offense off the bench. Two assists from two excellent crosses keyed a road win in Philadelphia that kept the Quakes top of the West.
MF: Dax McCarty (New York Red Bulls) — Monster effort in midfield against New England. Kept the Revs a step behind almost the entire game and saved New York’s defense plenty of work by cleaning things up in front of them.
MF: Dwayne De Rosario (D.C. United) — Pulled all the strings in United’s 3-2 victory over Houston and finally got his name in the goals column, swung in a ball that went untouched before bouncing off the post and in.
MF: Eric Avila (Toronto FC) — The Reds matched an unsavory record of seven straight losses to kick off the campaign in spite of Avila’s efforts. The midfielder made his case for a regular lineup spot by scoring, drawing a penalty and contributing in the buildup to Toronto’s other goal in a 3-2 loss to RSL.
FW: Will Bruin (Houston Dynamo) — Another excellent player on the wrong side of a result, Bruin’s two goals were not enough to help the Dynamo salvage any points at RFK. Going a long way to make people forget about last year’s late drop-off in form.
FW: Maicon Santos (D.C. United) — His goals, on the other hand, proved crucial in propelling D.C. United to a win that established the team as a force to be reckoned with in the East. Finally seems to have found his fit on his fourth MLS team in four years.
FW: Steven Lenhart (San Jose Earthquakes) — See what happens when you listen to your head coach? After Frank Yallop told Lenhart to tone down his antics, the forward responded with a clean game and the two goals the Earthquakes needed to overcome Philadelphia.
Manager: Frank Yallop (San Jose Earthquakes) — Worked his magic again for the Earthquakes, opting to hold Steven Lenhart and Marvin Chavez out of the starting lineup with a view towards a midweek game. However, he brought the pair on the right moment in the second half to secure another San Jose win.
Honorable Mention: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Joe Cannon (Vancouver Whitecaps), Tony Cascio (Colorado Rapids), Jun Marques Davidson (Vancouver Whitecaps), Gabriel Gómez (Philadelphia Union), Sebastián Grazzini (Chicago Fire), Kamani Hill (Colorado Rapids), Markus Holgersson (New York Red Bulls), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders), Jeff Larentowicz (Colorado Rapids), Fredy Montero (Seattle Sounders), Justin Morrow (San Jose Earthquakes), Aaron Schoenfeld (Columbus Crew), Saer Sene (New England Revolution), Brek Shea (FC Dallas), Jonny Steele (Real Salt Lake), Shavar Thomas (Montreal Impact), Daniel Woolard (D.C. United)