Team of the Week (Wk 21): Few goals? That's because these defenders came up huge
With three 0-0 draws, another 1-1 decision and a handful games decided by a goal, Week 21 certainly didn't provide the glut of goals we've seen earlier in July. However, though the lack of goals may make the highlight reels a bit shorter, it allowed other, less-heralded players to shine.
The three defenders honored in this week's Best XI are their mostly for their contributions in guiding their teams to hard-earned results on the road, though two did score. And the two central midfielders honored this week did not have a goal and assist between them, but are still more than deserving of spots given their impressive efforts shielding their backlines from harm.
Of course, there was some room for the goalscorers, especially given Chicago's 4-1 walloping of D.C. United, the firy encounter between Sporting KC and Real Salt Lake, and New England's late, late win over Columbus.
Which defensive stars made the cut this week, and which goalscorers stood out above the rest? Read on to find out...
SAVE: Ricketts denies Casey
GK: Donovan Ricketts (Portland Timbers) – Made four saves to guide the Portland Timbers to a clean sheet and a 0-0 draw in Philadelphia, none more spectacular than a stop on a Conor Casey blast in the second half.
DF: Zach Loyd (FC Dallas) – A force on the right flank as Dallas battled to a scoreless draw in Montreal, both quieting the Impact's attack and getting forward to effectively join in on a few attacks himself.
DF: Drew Moor (Colorado Rapids) – An absolute rock in the back and the lone Rapids goalscorer as Colorado earned their first point in Seattle with a 1-1 draw. Also went the full 90 in a 2-1 midweek victory over the New England Revolution.
DF: Ike Opara (Sporting KC) – Kept his cool in a heated game to put away the game-winner in Sporting's 2-1 win on the road at RSL and did a commendable job defensively against one of the league's top attacking teams.
WATCH: Nguyen pounces to feed Fagundez
MF: Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution) – Only saw 32 minutes of action against Columbus, but set up both of the Revolution's stoppage-time goals in a 2-0 win. Was also one of the Revs' more active attackers in Wednesday's losss in Colorado.
MF: Hendry Thomas (Colorado Rapids) – A dominant performance in front of Colorado's back four in Seattle. Made it almost impossible for the Sounders to break and a key contributor to a well-earned point.
MF: Matías Laba (Toronto FC) – The Young DP from Argentina continues to be one of the bright spots in a forgettable season from the Reds, and was the most influential player on the field in their 0-0 draw against New York. Shielded the back four well and even got into the attack on occasion.
MF: Joel Lindpere (Chicago Fire) – Made his case for a more regular starting spot with the Fire with a hugely impressive first half in Chicago's 4-1 win over D.C. United. Set up Chris Rolfe twice and added a goal of his own to complement a hard-working performance on the left side.
FW: Robbie Findley (Real Salt Lake) – The most dangerous player on the field during his 69 minutes of play in RSL's clash with Sporting Kansas City. Netted his team's only goal of the night and buzzed across the forward line.
GOAL: Zardes gives LA the lead
FW: Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy) – Finally starting to show some of that "mind-blowing" skill he promised us in the preseason with a fine individual effort to provide the game-winner for LA in a 2-1 decision against Vancouver.
FW: Chris Rolfe (Chicago Fire) – Was certainly on point for the Fire on Saturday evening, netting twice and frequently disrupting D.C.'s backline with his clever movement.
Coach: Oscar Pareja (Colorado Rapids) – Now that they have a semblance of health on the roster, Pareja's Rapids are showing some more consistency, with a win and a road draw over two games last week taking their unbeaten streak to five. The Colombian gets credit for managing an injury-prone roster well and adapting his team well to varying circumstances and opponents.
Bench: Luis Robles (New York Red Bulls), Carlos Bocanegra (Chivas USA), Marcelo Sarvas (LA Galaxy), Jeff Larentowicz (Chicago Fire), Soony Saad (Sporting Kansas City), Lamar Neagle (Seattle Sounders), Mike Magee (Chicago Fire)