Team of the Week (Wks 13-15): Canada stands apart
Things may be looking bleak as ever for Toronto FC, but the sun is shining for Canada's other two MLS representatives. Over the past week, Vancouver picked up a pair of wins to rise to third place in the Western Conference, while Montreal gave them a helping hand, posting an impressive 4-1 thumping of Seattle to open the refurbished Stade Saputo. For their efforts, the two sides combined for a four-player haul in this week's best XI.
The Whitecaps and Impact were not the only teams to post signature wins in the past round of action, though. Real Salt Lake ran out 3-0 winners on the road against Chivas USA, an accurate reflection of their dominance, while the Chicago Fire punished a shorthanded Red Bulls side to keep their playoff push alive and well.
Challenging the Fire, though, are the Columbus Crew, and while they had to settle for a 0-0 result on the road at New England, a now-familiar face came up big once more for the Crew to ensure the Fire could only extend their lead over Columbus to two points.
GK: Andy Gruenebaum (Columbus Crew) – Can seemingly do no wrong for Robert Warzycha’s men. Made six saves, including three excellent stops in the first half to secure a clean sheet and a point at New England.
DF: Nelson Rivas (Montreal Impact) – There will be questions about his late tackle on Fredy Montero, but there is no questioning that he was superb throughout the 90 minutes against Seattle, where his Serie A pedigree showed in spades.
DF: Amobi Okugo (Philadelphia Union) – Dropped to the back for Philadelphia’s game against D.C. United, Okugo looked every bit the part as he guided the Union defense to a superb showing against United, only to be undone by a controversial goal.
DF: Todd Dunivant (LA Galaxy) – LA looked like the 2011 version of themselves against Portland, so it’s no surprise Dunivant was at the center of things, looked assured on the left side and grabbing the Galaxy’s lone goal in a 1-0 win.
MF: Kelyn Rowe (New England Revolution) – Despite a fairly quiet outing against Columbus (and even then only a solid Eric Gehrig tackle denied him a wonder goal), Rowe was instrumental two weeks earlier in New England’s 2-0 win over Chicago, pulling all the strings and coming away with a goal and assist.
MF: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake) – His teammates got the glory, but Beckerman was immense in RSL’s 3-0 win at Chivas USA. Spearheaded The Claret-and-Cobalt’s domination of the midfield and picked up two assists to boot.
MF: Patrice Bernier (Montreal Impact) – A masterful performance from the 32-year-old, who assisted Montreal’s first three goals against Seattle, including two with top-class passes.
MF: Patrick Nyarko (Chicago Fire) – Gave New York fits all game long in Chicago’s 3-1 home win, and came away with a goal and an assist.
FW: Darren Mattocks (Vancouver Whitecaps) – Disregard his silly dismissal in Vancouver’s most recent game. The young Jamaican was irrepressible in the Whitecaps’ 3-1 win over Houston a week ago, tormenting a makeshift Dynamo backline with his pace and timing to come away with a pair of goals.
FW: Sébastien Le Toux (Vancouver Whitecaps) – Certainly saved Mattocks’ bacon with his wonderful volley and intelligent play that secured another win for the surging Whitecaps.
FW: Fabián Espíndola (Real Salt Lake) – The crafty striker was at his best against Chivas USA, scoring two goals and posing a constant threat.
Coach: Martin Rennie (Vancouver Whitecaps) – Vancouver has well and truly started to show the attacking potential talked up by many pundits at the beginning of the season. With two games on the docket, Rennie made the right choices in both, handing Mattocks the start against a depleted Houston defense and letting Davide Chiumiento be his creative self, for example. The result? Vancouver are now third in the West, seven points off leaders RSL with a game in hand.
Honorable Mention: Kevin Alston (New England Revolution), Will Bruin (Houston Dynamo), Brian Carroll (Philadelphia Union), Júlio César (Sporting Kansas City), Davide Chiumiento (Vancouver Whitecaps), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Benny Feilhaber (New England Revolution), Ned Grabavoy (Real Salt Lake), Tally Hall (Houston Dynamo), Jackson (FC Dallas), Gershon Koffie (Vancouver Whitecaps), Young-Pyo Lee (Vancouver Whitecaps), Felipe Martins (Montreal Impact), Adam Moffat (Houston Dynamo), Jimmy Nielsen (Sporting Kansas City), Chris Pontius (D.C. United), Matt Reis (New England Revolution), Martin Rivero (Colorado Rapids), Alain Rochat (Vancouver Whitecaps), Chris Rolfe (Chicago Fire), Josh Saunders (LA Galaxy), Josh Williams (Columbus Crew), Sheanon Williams (Philadelphia Union)