The playoff race in the East is heating up, and more than a few teams are rising to the occasion.
Nine of the 11 players on this week's Team of the Week hail from the East, with leaders Houston Dynamo, D.C. United, Philadelphia Union and the New York Red Bulls all represented. United lead the way this week with three midfield players after Dwayne De Rosario, Andy Najar and Stephen King had standout performances against Real Salt Lake this weekend.
The new beasts of the east, the Houston Dynamo, also contribute three players of their own.
The Western Conference shows up at forward, where the all-Colombian duo of Fredy Montero (Seattle Sounders) and Juan Pablo Ángel (Chivas USA) man the front line.
GK: Tally Hall (Houston Dynamo) – Set the tone early in Frisco with three big saves and although he needed the help of the woodwork, he gave his team a shot to win it in the end.
DF: Stephen Keel (New York Red Bulls) – A gritty defensive performance by the defender, who was lauded by manager Hans Backe for his physicality and his ability to dominate in the air.
DF: Geoff Cameron (Houston Dynamo) – Continues to play the central defender position with personality and composure, stepping up and pushing forward whenever the run of play permits.
DF: Michael Farfan (Philadelphia Union) – His exceptional talent and feel for the game allows him to be versatile enough to get thrown in at right back after only a few minutes in KC. Made the heady play along the end line and the pass for the equalizer.
MF: Adam Moffat (Houston Dynamo) – Here’s a midfielder who’s not here for his offensive contribution. Moffat was everywhere for Houston, breaking up plays all over the field and frustrating FC Dallas.
MF: Andy Najar (D.C. United) – Inspired performance against RSL with a goal and assist. Enterprising down the left with his off-the-ball runs and always dangerous with the ball at his feet, especially with the precision and quality of his crosses.
MF: Dwayne De Rosario (D.C. United) – Singlehandedly dismantled RSL in the first half with a killer pass for Najar’s goal and a hat trick on a header goal, a blast from distance and a free kick. Officially back to being the De Rosario of old.
MF: Dane Richards (New York Red Bulls) – A thorn in Portland’s side all night, Richards is often pigeon-holed as the speedy winger. But when his team needed a stroke of genius, he provided it with a spectacular solo effort and a sublime finish for the all-important opening goal.
MF: Stephen King (D.C. United) – His club is 3-0-4 when he starts and his manager says he hasn’t seen him play better than he did against RSL. Efficient two-sided players who always seems to show up in the right spots.
FW: Juan Pablo Ángel (Chivas USA) – Four goals in a week that brought back memories of the New York version of JPA with opportunistic goals and one of his spectacular patented headers.
FW: Fredy Montero (Seattle Sounders) – The ace in the hole for the Seattle Sounders. He is able to decide matches with single moments of genius like he did in Vancouver. More importantly for the Sounders, he’s finishing the season strong.
Manager: Bruce Arena (LA Galaxy) – When you can win a road game against a playoff contender in the midst of one of the toughest stretches of the season, it qualifies as a great success. To do it with a squad of reserves is doubly satisfying. Arena has every one of his players rowing in the same direction and knowing exactly what they need to do to get results.
Honorable Mentions: Jalil Anibaba (Chicago Fire), Brian Carroll (Philadelphia Union), Davide Chiumiento (Vancouver Whitecaps), Adam Cristman (LA Galaxy), Fabián Espíndola (Real Salt Lake), Ryan Guy (New England Revolution), George John (FC Dallas), Kei Kamara (Sporting Kansas City), Kasey Keller (Seattle Sounders), Joel Lindpere (New York Red Bulls), Zach Loyd (FC Dallas), Zac MacMath (Philadelphia Union), Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado Rapids), Patrick Nyarko (Chicago Fire), Dominic Oduro (Chicago Fire), Jeff Parke (Seattle Sounders), Logan Pause (Chicago Fire), Josh Saunders (LA Galaxy), Khari Stephenson (San Jose Earthquakes)