Team of the Week (Wk 9): Explosion of goals, but how many forwards made the cut
Week 9 saw an offensive explosion relative to the previous eight weeks of the 2013 season, with 27 goals over nine games accounting for a goals-per-game average of 3.00.
Last weekend's play was also a perfect illustration of just how much work goes into scoring besides just putting the ball into the net, a point illustrated in this week's Team of the Week selection. Only one of the two forwards honored actually netted any goals, while many other players were highlighted by the MLSsoccer.com editorial staff not just for getting a goal here or there, but creating chances and doing the dirty work that allows the offense to thrive.
The last round of games also saw another young goalkeeper burst onto the scene with an eye-catching performance and another player rewarded in part for his ability to counter the effect of San Jose's big – and controversial – target forwards.
Who made the cut this time around? Read on to find out...
SAVE: Rowe gets horizontal to deny Plata
GK: Brian Rowe (LA Galaxy) – A stunning performance from the young, third-string Galaxy 'keeper, whose seven saves proved the difference between a point on the road and three in LA's 2-0 win over Real Salt Lake.
DF: Chance Myers (Sporting Kansas City) – Netted the first two goals of his MLS career in Sporting's loss to the Portland Timbers, and even though SKC conceded three, Myers was often left hung out to dry by his teammates.
DF: Mario de Luna (Chivas USA) – Did well to net a goal in his team's 2-2 draw against the visiting Earthquakes, and did a superb job matching up against the bigger Steven Lenhart, even getting under Big Bird's skin enough to force a substitution.
DF: Roy Miller (New York Red Bulls) – Continued his comeback from an early-season meltdown in San Jose with a superb showing for the Red Bulls at BMO Field. Not only did he set up New York's opener, he proved to be one of the best players on the field throughout the game, though especially in the first half.
MF: Shea Salinas (San Jose Earthquakes) – He and his speed exposed the weaknesses of Chivas' 3-5-2 formation on the flanks to the tune of two assists, and he probably should have had one or two more.
MF: Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution) – Helped set up the opener and scored the second goal in New England's 2-0 win over Philadelphia. The freer role given to him by head coach Jay Heaps yielded an electric performance in midfield.
MF: Tim Cahill (New York Red Bulls) – Saturday's 2-0 win over Toronto FC could have been just the breakout performance the under-fire Australian DP needed to get going, as he bagged both of New York's goals, including a 90th-minute winner.
MF: Danny O'Rourke (Columbus Crew) – Set the tone for the Crew's 3-0 romp over D.C. United with a superb shift in the midfield, stopping everything D.C. threw his way, putting in solid tackles and even getting things started in attack from time to time.
GOAL: Wallace's cool finish wins it
MF: Rodney Wallace (Portland Timbers) – Rewarded Caleb Porter's continued faith in him with another impressive performance, and was the catalyst behind the Timbers' impressive 3-2 win in Kansas City. Provided a fine finish for the game-winning goal, and his blast, barely saved by Jimmy Nielsen, led to one of Portland's equalizers.
FW: Jairo Arrieta (Columbus Crew) – Did not find the net himself, but more than made his case to stay in Robert Warzycha's first-choice XI with an electric performance that saw him involved in all three of the Crew's goals against D.C.
FW: Ryan Johnson (Portland Timbers) – A great night out for the Jamaican international, who notched a goal and an assist in Kansas City while going toe-to-toe with the imposing Aurélien Collin for 90 minutes – and leaving him in the dust.
Coach: Caleb Porter (Portland Timbers) – It should be obvious by now that Portland fear no team, and that extends to their head coach, who went with a bold game plan in one of the toughest places in the league to play and came away with three goals and three points. The Timbers more than matched Sporting at their own game and finally got the signature road win they've been craving.
Bench: Clint Irwin (Colorado Rapids), Alessandro Nesta (Montreal Impact), Gale Agbossomounde (Toronto FC), Hendry Thomas (Colorado Rapids), Mike Magee (LA Galaxy), Kekuta Manneh (Vancouver Whitecaps), Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls)