Behind the badge: Double trouble
On the strength of his two-goal performance in last week's win over Colorado, Alecko Eskandarian joined elite company as a two-time winner of the Player of the Week honor in MLS. He joined San Jose's Pat Onstad, Los Angeles's Jovan Kirovski and teammate Jaime Moreno as two-time winners. This week, we'll take a look at just how important Moreno and Eskandarian are to the success of the Black-and-Red.
With three tallies last weekend against Chicago, the Black-and-Red matched last year's total of 38 goals. But this year's side has certainly done it with a bit more panache. Alecko Eskandarian again has a goal nominated for the Sierra Mist Goal of the Week, his seventh nominee. He leads early voting by a comfortable margin. Although United lead the league with 18 nominees, what is more impressive is their consistency. United have only failed to have a nominee in two matches where they have scored, and lead the league with four different players who have won.
Eskandarian has been money in the bank when he scores, collecting three of the five awards. In ironic fashion, both times Eskandarian has failed to take home the honors, he has been beaten by a member of the Columbus Crew, his favorite target. Throughout his career, Eskandarian has tallied five of his 13 goals against the Crew, including a pair of two-goal games.
United's 3-1 win against Chicago was huge in the Eastern Conference race, as it helped provide some separation in the standings. United need only garner seven points from their final four matches to guarantee a return to the playoffs. The Black-and-Red are clicking at the right time to make it happen, as they have taken 12 points from their last seven games, their only loss coming to Chicago on Sept. 4.
With the win over Chicago, United keep the Columbus Crew in their sights and open up a little breathing room on Chicago. The Black-and-Red can still capture the Eastern Conference top seed, as they sit a mere seven points behind Columbus. In fact, the only team that cannot take top honors is New England.