Team of the Week (Wk 23): Super subs spark their respective teams to wins
Not all substitutions work out. Some are too little, too late and others just don't go as planned. But boy, does a coach look good when a sub pays off, and we saw that play out in a big way in two Eastern Conference clashes this week.
One sub from New York coach Mike Petke and another from D.C. United coach Ben Olsen changed the courses of their games against Sporting KC and the Montreal Impact, respectively, and those players were honored for their big contributions, along with one of the coaches.
Of course, playing the full 90 minutes, or nearly all of it, is also a great way to get recognized, and there were plenty of other players who stood out in a goal-heavy week 23 through their hard work and accomplishments over the course of a full game.
Which subs made the cut this week? Who else took home a Team of the Week nod? Read on to find out...
DF: Doneil Henry (Toronto FC) – Put his struggles with consistency aside for one night and turned in a formidable 90 minutes in Toronto's 1-0 win over New England, giving the Revs strikers no quarter and winning nearly everything in the air.
DF: Djimi Traore (Seattle Sounders) – Was seemingly everywhere at once in Seattle's 3-0 win over Dallas, snuffing out chances before they happened and making Marcus Hahnemann's job easier, in turn laying the foundation for a shutout win.
MF: Lloyd Sam (New York Red Bulls) – It's hard to have a more impactful 27 minutes on the field than Sam did in New York's 3-2 win at Sporting Kansas City. The super sub set up one goal before scoring his own – the game-winner – and nearly grabbed another assist before coming off injured in the dying minutes of the game.
MF: Boniek Garcia (Houston Dynamo) – Had a dominant showing on Houston's right flank in their 3-1 win over the Columbus Crew, helping set up two goals as he showed the form that made him one of signings of the season last year.
MF: Matias Laba (Toronto FC) – Scored a superb individual effort for the lone goal in Toronto's win over New England, but that only tells half the story. Did an excellent job of helping keep things compact in the middle of the field, distributed well and made life very difficult for New England.
MF: Jonny Steele (New York Red Bulls) – Got a goal and an assist of his own to add to a workmanlike performance on New York's left flank and showed once again why he may be one of the more underrated acquisitions of the offseason.
FW: Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes) – There's the Wondo we all know and love. Broke a nearly three-month MLS scoring drought with two very good finishes to lead the Earthquakes to a third straight win.
FW: Conor Doyle (D.C. United) – Came up big off the bench as United scored a 3-1 win over the visiting Montreal Impact, making a smart run and deft finish to score the game-winner before setting up Jared Jeffrey's insurance strike in stoppage time.
FW: Luis Silva (D.C. United) – Another game, another goal for Silva in United colors. Scored the opener against the Impact and continued to breathe life into the United offense, just as he has done since coming over from Toronto FC.
Coach: Ben Olsen (D.C. United) – The youth movement in the nation's capital certainly looks to be reaping dividends. United's group of young Americans contributed in a big way in a morale-boosting win over the Impact, playing some nice soccer, to boot.
Bench: Joe Bendik (Toronto FC), Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders), Dax McCarty (New York Red Bulls), Jared Jeffrey (D.C. United), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders), Mike Magee (Chicago Fire)