Team of the Week (Wk 21): Perennial powerhouses Real Salt Lake, LA Galaxy make their mark
The LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake routinely trot out two of MLS' best teams, and Week 21 was no different.
Both the Galaxy and RSL posted impressive wins to stay near the top of the Western Conference, as LA throttled Cascadia opponents the Seattle Sounders, 3-0, at CenturyLink Field and the Portland Timbers, 3-1, at StubHub Center while Real Salt Lake ousted Rocky Mountain Cup foes the Colorado Rapids on the road after settling for a draw at home with the New York Red Bulls.
Those performances from the Western Conference's perennial powerhouses saw each contribute two players to Week 21's MLS Team of the Week, with the in-form Robbie Keane and left back Robbie Rogers making representing the Galaxy and superb goalkeeper Nick Rimando and stalwart center back Nat Borchers pushing their way in for RSL.
Who else earned a spot on the latest Team of the Week? Read on to find out.
GK: Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake) – There’s making history, and there’s making history while playing down a man and making six saves, including a last-minute stop to keep the clean sheet. Some may be tempted to put him on team of the week for sentimental reasons, but he flat-out deserves the honor after that game vs. the Rapids.
D: Zach Loyd (FC Dallas) – The veteran right back helped his team blank Chivas USA on the road, limiting red-hot forward Erick Torres in the process. He's officially back in Oscar Pareja's good graces, and for good reason.
D: Robbie Rogers (LA Galaxy) – Good luck kicking Rogers out of the Galaxy lineup. His ability to contribute to the attack gives LA yet another dimension, and his defending is catching up rapidly as well.
M: Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City) – Looked on another level for nearly the whole game against the Union, not only playmaking but finishing, as he scored one and came a hair away from making it a brace – and possibly a Sporting win.
M: Michael Bradley (Toronto FC) – Helped Toronto dominate the midfield, was instrumental on both the club's goals in the win over the Impact. His long ball to Dominic Oduro to set up the second was a thing of beauty.
M: Dax McCarty (New York Red Bulls) – After playing as a third center back for the Red Bulls in the first half, McCarty stepped forward, literally, in the second, kick-starting the comeback against the Revolution with a terrific goal. He also had a solid blue-collar shift in a 1-1 draw with Real Salt Lake in midweek action.
M: Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution) – Leads the orchestra like few American players can – links play, finds (and asks for) the ball, sees the final pass, can finish on his own, eager to track back. And all of it was on display against Colorado before delivering another strong half in the demoralizing loss in New York.
F: Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes) – Wondo refuses to let the Earthquakes lose. It wasn’t just the seeing-eye chip over the top for Yannick Djalo’s goal (and a near identical trick in the second half). He also did the dirty work on defensive end for a big win in front of nearly 49,000 at Levi’s.
F: Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy) – Nobody better in MLS both creating and finishing when Keano is on. And he's definitely on, with two goals and a assist to show from two massive wins for the Galaxy.
F: Gilberto (Toronto FC) – His 11th-minute opener vs. the Impact was very well taken. Looked dangerous throughout, popping up all over to help Toronto string the attack together. More please, say TFC fans.
Coach: Bruce Arena (LA Galaxy) – Weeks don't get much better, and Arena seems to be pulling all the right strings (again) in LA. Gyasi Zardes' move up top is paying dividends and the Galaxy look like the best team in the league right now.
Bench: Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), AJ Soares (New England Revolution), Fabian Castillo (FC Dallas), Kelyn Rowe (New England Revolution), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Bradley Wright-Phillips (New York Red Bulls), Brian Brown (Philadelphia Union)