Team of the Week (Wk 10): Eastern Conference's strong showing gives selection a distinct feel
Week 10 proved to be a fine one for the league's Eastern Conference teams – the reigning conference champion Houston Dynamo got their revenge on the LA Galaxy for two straight MLS Cup defeats and Sporting KC thumped Chivas USA, while Montreal and New England picked up points on the road against Western Conference opposition.
Such strong showings from these teams make it only natural that eight out of the 11 players in this week's XI, plus the coach, all hail from Eastern Conference outfits. There probably isn't too much to read into from one week of results, as far as the relative strength of the conferences is concerned, but it is a good reminder that the East is not only competitive, but full of quality, just as the West has shown in years past.
Who exactly made the cut? Read on to find out...
SAVE: Shuttleworth stops Nagbe 1-v-1
GK: Bobby Shuttleworth (New England Revolution) – Continued to make a strong push to become New England's permanent starter in goal with a hugely impressive nine-save performance in Portland to help secure a clean sheet and a point on the road for his team.
DF: Josh Williams (Columbus Crew) – Has quietly emerged as one of the top right backs in the league and put on another solid show on Saturday against New York, setting up Eddie Gaven's streaking run into the box that resulted in a penalty kick.
DF: Nat Borchers (Real Salt Lake) – Seemed to make the right play almost every time in RSL's 2-0 win over Vancouver, most of all his clearance off the line to keep RSL in the lead. Did a good job dealing with up-and-coming goal-getter Corey Hertzog.
DF: Bobby Boswell (Houston Dynamo) – A major part of Houston's clean sheet and 1-0 win in LA. Read the game well, was unafraid to put his body on the line and even looked improved in his passing, which has previously taken some flak.
MF: Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City) – Dominant in SKC's 4-0 thrashing of Chivas USA. Came away with a goal and an assist, and was easily the best player on the field on Sunday afternoon at Sporting Park.
MF: Sam Cronin (San Jose Earthquakes) – The hard-working midfielder became the offensive inspiration for San Jose's comeback from two goals down to a 2-2 draw against the high-flying Impact, setting up Adam Jahn's strike before finding the injury-time equalizer in typical Quakes fashion.
MF: Tim Cahill (New York Red Bulls) – Scored the lone goal in New York's 1-0 win in Columbus and did a lot of the little things well in midfield too, especially covering the gaps often left by counterpart Juninho.
GOAL: Mapp's 35-yard blast
MF: Justin Mapp (Montreal Impact) – Electric in the Impact's draw on the road against the Quakes. Was a threat out wide all game long and scored both his team's goals, including a 35-yard stunner to open the scoring.
FW: Claudio Bieler (Sporting Kansas City) – A clinical showing from the Argentine DP, who netted twice in SKC's win over Chivas USA and would have had a hat-trick if not for an offside call on Zusi in the 62nd minute.
FW: Joao Plata (Real Salt Lake) – Set up both RSL goals in the team's 2-0 win over the visiting Whitecaps, illustrating his ability to be a constant threat in the final third.
Coach: Dominic Kinnear (Houston Dynamo) – His Dynamo team went a long way towards getting that road game monkey off its back (and the Galaxy one, for that matter) with a well-executed 1-0 win at the Home Depot Center. Andrew Driver is looking more and more like an inspired signing and the Dynamo have rarely looked better without Brad Davis.
Bench: Luis Robles (New York Red Bulls), Kofi Sarkodie (Houston Dynamo), Seth Sinovic (Sporting Kansas City), Andrew Driver (Houston Dynamo), Mauro Rosales (Seattle Sounders), Conor Casey (Philadelphia Union), Edson Buddle (Colorado Rapids)