Team of the Week (Wk 1): Dominant performances abound, but only 11 can make the final squad
The opening weekend of 2014 produced exciting games of every type. Games in Vancouver, Houston, and D.C. were blowouts, but also gave us some highlight-reel goals. There were also nail-biters in Seattle, Portland and LA with last-second goals (or saves) shifting the outcome.
The Eastern Conference got the worst end of all this with only two teams emerging with a win, both of which came against fellow Eastern Conference foes. In the West, teams with new coaches got off to flying starts, as Chivas USA, Vancouver and FC Dallas collected all three points.
All of these games gave us great individual performers, whether it was from newcomers, past MLS All-Stars or even journeymen. Which players were able to start the season with an honor? Read on to find out…
GK: Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake) – One of the all-time greats in MLS was massive, making nine saves, including denying Landon Donovan his record-setter and the equalizing PK in stoppage during RSL’s 1-0 win over LA.
DF: Nat Borchers (Real Salt Lake) – The longtime MLS veteran had his hands full with LA’s new target strikers in Samuel and Rob Friend but was able to keep both of them in check. His positioning was also very good to keep Robbie Keane under wraps.
DF: Michael Parkhurst (Columbus Crew) – In his Crew debut, Parkhurst showed why he is potentially going to Brazil with the USMNT. Neutralized Eddie Johnson, helped hold United to one shot on goal, and rarely lost possession.
DF: DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders) – Showed off some maturity after participating in the USMNT January camp. Displayed strong positioning and the ability to go forward.
MF: Boniek García (Houston Dynamo) – Spectacular performance by the Honduran international, who is omnipresent and even more impactful in the center of the field. Makes things happen when the ball is at his feet.
MF: Mauro Díaz (FC Dallas) – After David Ferreira’s departure, there is no doubt whose team this is as he was the driving force behind FC Dallas’ attack with creativity and precision. Produced one of the goals of the week with his free kick in the 47th minute.
MF: Maurice Edu (Philadelphia Union) – He didn’t actually dominate the midfield, but instead stayed busy all night, disrupting Portland’s passing game and battling with Diego Chará and Will Johnson, not to mention notching an assist. Edu showed why Philly were so keen to get him.
MF: Sebastián Fernández (Vancouver Whitecaps) – Made his MLS debut in style, tracking back to help defensively, moving the attack forward from the left, and capping off his night with a golazo.
FW: Federico Higuaín (Columbus Crew) – Ran the attack for the Crew, with his usual probing passing, link-up play with Bernardo Añor, Hector Jimenez and Jairo Arrieta, and, of course, the two goals.
FW: Will Bruin (Houston Dynamo) – Responds to the naysayers who questioned his finishing with two fantastic strikes in the opening 13 minutes. Will this set the tone for the year? We'll forget the 1-v-1 in the second half on which he should've done better.
FW: Fabián Castillo (FC Dallas) – So dangerous down left side – he was at the forefront of every counter and the Impact had no answer for his speed.
Coach: Gregg Berhalter (Columbus Crew) – Announced his arrival in MLS with a bang, notching one of the most impressive wins the Crew have had over the past couple of seasons. His team did what so few teams do in MLS, control possession on the road.
Bench: Jaime Penedo (LA Galaxy), Amobi Okugo (Philadelphia Union), Josh Williams (Columbus Crew), David Horst (Houston Dynamo), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew), Justin Mapp (Montreal Impact), Mauro Rosales (Chivas USA)