There were goals aplenty to be found in Week 17's slate of games, making the task of whittling down the number of players that excelled to just 11 a formidable one. However, in this action-packed week, two teams stood out above the rest, each placing three players in this week's best XI.
One of the teams is an outfit we've come to expect this sort of thing from. The San Jose Earthquakes posted a memorable 4-3 win over the LA Galaxy in front of a packed house at Stanford Stadium, coming from behind once again to increase their lead in the Supporters' Shield race.
The other team, however, has posted a surprisingly good run of results in the recent weeks, earning four points from two games this past week. Toronto FC have enjoyed a resurgence under new head coach Paul Mariner and are now unbeaten in four games, having played well in a 3-0 win at the Montreal Impact (their first road win of the year) and a 1-1 draw with the New York Red Bulls.
Elsewhere, the Chicago Fire established themselves as contenders in the Eastern Conference with a 1-0 road win against Sporting KC and were rewarded with two selections for their defensive efforts.
GK: Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire) – Simply unbeatable on Friday night, preserving a Chicago win with five saves, nearly all of them worthy of the highlight reel.
DF: Víctor Bernárdez (San Jose Earthquakes) – A beast on both sides of the ball, the big Honduran shined in the back despite shortcomings in other parts of the San Jose defense and provided a momentum-changing goal against the Galaxy off a sweet first-time strike.
Top 3 Performers: Week 17
DF: Arne Friedrich (Chicago Fire) – The type of defender who relies on his intelligence and positioning, Friedrich played to his strong suits in the Fire’s 1-0 win over Kansas City, helping contain a relentless attack.
DF: Ashtone Morgan (Toronto FC) – The young left back continued his breakout month with two excellent performances against Montreal and New York. Contributed an assist in the win over Montreal and solid play on both sides of the ball in both games.
MF: Marvin Chávez (San Jose Earthquakes) – The speedy Honduran has thrived in the the Earthquakes system and picked up another two assists while posing a threat all game long in Saturday’s wild win over the Galaxy.
MF: Eddie Gaven (Columbus Crew) – Brought it all to the table in the Crew’s win over Real Salt Lake – worked hard, had some clever plays and a composed finish to double his team’s advantage.
MF: Torsten Frings (Toronto FC) – Veteran midfielder showed his class in TFC’s two results last week, directing traffic in the midfield, scoring from a blistering free kick against Montreal and setting up Danny Koevermans’ quick equalizer against New York.
MF: Chris Pontius (D.C. United) – Opened the scoring in D.C.’s 3-0 rout of Montreal with a mazy run and finish, proved to be United’s most dangerous over 90 minutes.
FW: Steven Lenhart (San Jose Earthquakes) – A key player in San Jose’s big win, Lenhart put himself in the right place at the right time to poke home the opener and had a clever run and dummy to open up acres of space for Sam Cronin’s equalizer.
FW: Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders) – Not much is going right for the Sounders at the moment, but they can be happy with Johnson’s contribution. The athletic forward is the team’s leading goalscorer after his brace against New England.
FW: Danny Koevermans (Toronto FC) – After a rocky start to the season, the Dutchman has been excellent – his goals in each of Toronto’s games this week took his total to seven goals in his past seven games, making him a huge factor in Toronto’s resurgence.
Coach: Paul Mariner (Toronto FC) – The other big factor in Toronto’s rise from the dead has been their new coach. Mariner has already started to get the best out of Aron Winter’s two biggest signings in Frings and Koevermans and has instilled a renewed confidence and verve in the team.
Honorable Mention: David Beckham (LA Galaxy), Conor Casey (Colorado Rapids), Jaime Castrillón (Colorado Rapids), Sam Cronin (San Jose Earthquakes) Keon Daniel (Philadelphia Union), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Diego Fagundez (New England Revolution), Ryan Johnson (Toronto FC), Shalrie Joseph (New England Revolution), Kei Kamara (Sporting Kansas City), Mac Kandji (Houston Dynamo), Perry Kitchen (D.C. United), Mike Magee (LA Galaxy), Brian Mullan (Colorado Rapids), Danny O'Rourke (Columbus Crew), Marco Pappa (Chicago Fire), Chris Rolfe (Chicago Fire), Josh Williams (Columbus Crew), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)