Team of the Week (Wk 33): Plenty to like on final weekend
This is it, folks. The regular season has wrapped up, and though nine teams will have to wait at least another year, they weren't about to quit on the final weekend.
Of the 11 players honored in the final week's selection, five will not be making that trip to the postseason, but nonetheless gave their fans something to look forward to over the winter months. Of course, the other six gave something for their team's fans to look forward to as well, with all of them proving to be key elements in their respective sides' playoff pushes.
Also worthy of note is the fact that the 11 honorees this week game from 11 different teams, a rare occurrence in Team of the Week selections. It just goes to show that the league and players in it remain as competitive as ever, even as the regular season would to a close and teams dropped out of the playoff race.
Who made this week's selection and who didn't make the cut? Read on to find out...
GK: Bill Hamid (D.C. United) – Stood on his head after conceding an early goal, coming up with eight saves to earn D.C. a point against a rampant Fire team.
DF: David Horst (Portland Timbers) – Backed up his pregame talk with some outstanding play, helping hold Chris Wondolowski and the Earthquakes from the run of play. Highlight was a goal-saving tackle on the MLS scoring champion just before halftime.
DF: A.J. Soares (New England Revolution) – Played a sound game at the back and rose highest to head home the winning goal as New England clinched their first-ever win in Canada.
DF: Jay DeMerit (Vancouver Whitecaps) – The veteran's defensive play stood out in a 0-0 draw at RSL with few highlights, and he'll need to keep it up if the 'Caps are to have a chance in their Knockout Round game at LA.
MF: Fabián Castillo (FC Dallas) – His silly tug of Ben Zemanski's hair aside, the Colombian winger was at his electric best in Dallas' 2-2 draw against Chivas USA. Pace was a weapon all game long and he used it to great effect in scoring Dallas' second goal.
MF: Martín Rivero (Colorado Rapids) – Showed exactly why he will be one of Oscar Pareja's players to build around in 2013, bossing the midfield Rapids' 2-0 win over Houston and showing his strong technical ability.
MF: Federico Higuaín (Columbus Crew) – The win over Toronto may have been too little, too late for Higuaín and the Crew, but it was nonetheless a strong showing from the Argentine enganche, who scored two goals and gave Crew fans plenty to be excited about heading into 2013.
MF: Patrick Nyarko (Chicago Fire) – The speedy winger scored a goal as good as any you'll see this year and was strong on the ball in the Fire's 1-1 tie with D.C. United.
FW: Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy) – Rarely will you see a forward perform this well and not score. Keane was absolutely buzzing throughout LA's showdown with Seattle and was denied a wondergoal only by the woodwork.
FW: Kenny Cooper (New York Red Bulls) – Not a pretty performance against Philadelphia, but certainly an effective one. The big forward was clinical in converting his two chances
FW: Kei Kamara (Sporting Kansas City) – Though other players provided the goals, Kamara provided the perfect service in SKC's 2-1 win over Philadelphia with two devastating assists to complement a typically robust showing.
Coach: Hans Backe (New York Red Bulls) – If momentum is a big factor in playoff runs, as many observers will contend, then Backe and the Red Bulls can breathe a small sigh of relief. A 3-0 win over the rival Philadelphia Union put an exclamation point on the season after a lackluster final month, and Backe finally seems to be getting some good things out of Rafa Márquez right when he'll need them.
Honorable Mention: Juan Agudelo (Chivas USA), Jairo Arrieta (Columbus Crew), Darrius Barnes (New England Revolution), Laurent Courtois (Chivas USA), Sam Cronin (San Jose Earthquakes), Nick DeLeon (D.C. United), Marco Di Vaio (Montreal Impact), Bright Dike (Portland Timbers), David Ferreira (FC Dallas), Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls), Kamani Hill (Colorado Rapids), Antoine Hoppenot (Philadelphia Union), Rafa Márquez (New York Red Bulls), Mike Magee (LA Galaxy), Fredy Montero (Seattle Sounders), C.J. Sapong (Sporting Kansas City), Josh Saunders (LA Galaxy), Chris Wingert (Real Salt Lake), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Marvell Wynne (Colorado Rapids)