The Vancouver Whitecaps may be distant from a playoff berth, but they're not going down without a fight. The Houston Dynamo's 1-0 loss at Empire Field was proof.
The performance by the expansion side resulted in three Whitecaps players elected to the MLSsoccer.com Team of the Week for Week 24, which matches the number of representatives from the Chicago Fire, who are similarly reborn after earning their second straight league win, 2-0, over the defending champions Colorado Rapids.
Fire playmaker Sebastián Grazzini joins Player of the Week Lamar Neagle as well as fellow Argentine Mauro Rosales, who has become a fixture among the league's best XI. But the Argentines are a minority on this week's list when compared to the Ghanaians, who number three.
GK: Joe Cannon (Vancouver Whitecaps) – Having endured injury and the pressure of being one of his club's top paid players, he will be proud to finally register a vintage Cannon performance against Houston.
DF: Jámison Olave (Real Salt Lake) – It’s night and day with the reigning Defender of the Year back in the lineup. The Colombian’s presence boosted 10-man RSL as they hung on for a 1-0 road win at Chivas.
DF: Alain Rochat (Vancouver Whitecaps) – Rochat was touted as an All-Star left back entering the season. Vancouver, however, have discovered that his calm play and pinpoint passing are best utilized in the middle of the back line.
DF: Eric Brunner (Portland Timbers) – One game off really did recharge Brunner, who came back from his momentary break as driven as ever. The way he beat every other player to the ball on his game-winning goal was evidence.
MF: Lamar Neagle (Seattle Sounders) – Look past his hat trick vs. Columbus and you’ll notice an exceptional first touch, brave decision-making and impressive acceleration and endurance. He has all the tools to continue his rise.
MF: Mauro Rosales (Seattle Sounders) – Neagle has an MVP candidate to emulate in the person of Rosales. The Argentine’s work rate, skill and precise passing from the right helped carve up a helpless Columbus side.
MF: Gershon Koffie (Vancouver Whitecaps) – The Ghanaian midfielder put together the perfect match, reminding the Whitecaps why they’ve placed this much faith in the recently turned 20-year-old during a delicate debut season for the club.
MF: Patrick Nyarko (Chicago Fire) – Nyarko has become more impactful as the season has gone on, seemingly sensing that the team has needed his inspired play down the flank as it fights for playoff survival.
MF: Sebastián Grazzini (Chicago Fire) – Creative midfielders aren’t supposed to fit right into MLS matches this quickly. But Grazzini has a knack for springing up in the right place and at the right moment to make the key play.
FW: Dominic Oduro (Chicago Fire) – The Ghanaian forward is striking fear into opposing back lines in recent weeks. His ninth goal of the season against the Rapids should shake his reputation once and for all of missing the big scoring chance.
FW: Maicon Santos (FC Dallas) – Like Oduro, Santos may have finally found the team that best showcases his characteristics. With a complement of star players around him and improved service, the Brazilian left his mark on another match for FC Dallas.
Manager: Jason Kreis (Real Salt Lake) - For a Real Salt Lake squad that endured its longest winless streak in the Kreis era, it would have been easy to sulk when faced with the prospect of playing more than a half of the match at Chivas USA with 10 men after Nat Borchers' sending-off. Instead RSL responded with a committed and organized response, taking home a 1-0 result and showing the rest of the league that Real Salt Lake's heart still beats strong.
Honorable Mentions: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Jay DeMerit (Vancouver Whitecaps), Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (Seattle Sounders), Jack Jewsbury (Portland Timbers), Will Johnson (Real Salt Lake), Dan Kennedy (Chivas USA), Nick LaBrocca (Chivas USA), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake), Brek Shea (FC Dallas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)