Team of the Week (Wk 16): Highlight-reel performers grab the spotlight
It was another abbreviated week of MLS action in Round 16, but there were no shortage of highlight-reel plays. From stunning goals to super saves, players across the league made the stadiums roar and lit up fans' TV screens.
In Vancouver, a wild win for the Whitecaps over New England was punctuated by a pair of spectacular goals from one of this week's honorees. Portland's Western Conference battle with Dallas was decided by an equally spectacular goal, again earning the scorer Best XI honors, a game that also saw some spectacular saves and defensive plays.
Of course, the week was not completely without the workmanlike performances such as those that lifted Columbus to a vital win in their playoff push, or the ones on display as Toronto and D.C. battled hard to give themselves a glimmer of hope in a disappointing season.
Who made this week's selection? Read on to find out...
WATCH: Raul "Superman" Fernandez keeps FCD alive
GK: Raúl Fernández (FC Dallas) – Dallas may have lost in Portland, dropping a 1-0 result, but it would have been much worse had the Peruvian 'keeper not made a string of ridiculous saves worthy of any highlight reel.
DF: Zach Loyd (FC Dallas) – Just ahead of Fernández, the right back did the best out of any of Dallas' defenders on the night on both sides of the ball, frustrating Portland out wide for long stretches of the game and getting forward to good effect.
DF: Steven Caldwell (Toronto FC) – The veteran Scotsman held his own as TFC claimed a much-needed 2-1 win at D.C. United on Saturday. He was solid defensively, delivered the free kick for Robert Earnshaw's equalizer and was up there helping apply pressure on the own goal that won the game for the Reds.
DF: Alain Rochat (D.C. United) – The newly acquired utility man may have been on the wrong end of the result for a stricken D.C. side, but his versatility and solid defensive play in the game showed that the Black-and-Red may have found one of the men who can help them out of their epic slump.
MF: Russell Teibert (Vancouver Whitecaps) – The 20-year-old was a force down the right flank for the Whitecaps in their wild win over New England on Saturday, assisting on one goal, contributing a couple of key passes and using his pace to present a frequent threat to the Revolution defense.
MF: Matías Sánchez (Columbus Crew) – Hit an early goal to set Columbus on their way against the Montreal Impact and continued to impress afterwards, doing the dirty work behind Federico Higuaín while still offering something on offense.
MF: Diego Chará (Portland Timbers) – Yet another superb two-way performance from the tireless Colombian. Covered all of his defensive responsibilities and showed no hesitation getting forward, even late in the game, though his finishing left something to be desired.
GOAL: Nagbe's golazo decides the game
MF: Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers) – Though guilty of occasionally drifting out of the proceedings, he hit a strike every bit worthy of the decider between two of the league's top teams and contributed to some of Portland's most dangerous attacking moves.
FW: Dominic Oduro (Columbus Crew) – Gave the Impact defense fits all night with his speed, and finished with a goal and an assist as the Crew grabbed a vital 2-0 win against the Eastern Conference leaders.
GOAL: Miller hits a stunner vs. the Revs
FW: Kenny Miller (Vancouver Whitecaps) – Two stunning goals and a brilliant all-around night for the Scotsman, what more could you ask of your DP? And it turns out the Whitecaps needed every ounce of that brilliance as they held on to beat New England 4-3.
FW: Steven Lenhart (San Jose Earthquakes) – His presence on the scoresheet will be a welcome sight for Earthquakes, and the goal wasn't half-bad, either. Also kept Drew Moor occupied as Sam Cronin burst through for the all-important second goal in the Quakes' 2-1 win over Colorado and showed his typically strong hold-up play.
Coach: Robert Warzycha (Columbus Crew) – Got a result against the top team in the East despite the injuries plaguging his team. Matías Sánchez looks to be coming good after all the hype around his signing, and his faith in the Crew's youngsters has been rewarded.
Bench: Joe Bendik (Toronto FC), Chad Barson (Columbus Crew), Martín Rivero (Colorado Rapids), Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers), Kelyn Rowe (New England Revolution), Luis Silva (Toronto FC), Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution)