Team of the Matchday

Team of the Matchday: Roman Bürki, Riqui Puig among Matchday 9's best

Players like LA Galaxy midfielder Riqui Puig and St. Louis CITY SC goalkeeper Roman Bürki, with backgrounds at some of Europe’s biggest clubs, are expected to routinely step up in Major League Soccer.

They did that and more during Matchday 9, helping lead the latest Team of the Matchday presented by Audi.


Puig, an academy product of Spanish titans FC Barcelona, notched 1g/1a in LA’s 2-0 win over fellow Western Conference strugglers Austin FC. That result served as the Galaxy’s first victory of the 2023 campaign after a seven-game skid, and their Landon Donovan MLS MVP-potential midfielder constantly drove attacks forward.

Bürki, a former Swiss international who rose to prominence at German power Borussia Dortmund, produced a 12-save night in CITY SC’s 1-1 draw at the Colorado Rapids. The expansion club’s captain was three stops shy of the MLS regular-season record, and was only denied his third clean sheet of the season in second-half stoppage time.

We’d be remiss to not spotlight D.C. United’s lucrative trip to Orlando City SC, which ended in a 3-1 win for Wayne Rooney’s side. Center back Donovan Pines’ game-winning header earned him a spot on the backline, while longtime Premier League striker and Belgian international Christian Benteke (1g/0a) appears on the bench after scoring his fourth goal of the year.

Three strikers lead the line after standout Saturday showings: Giacomo Vrioni (New England Revolution), Mikael Uhre (Philadelphia Union) and Santiago Rodríguez (New York City FC). Vrioni had 2g/0a – and drew a red card – as the Eastern Conference leaders dispatched bottom-of-the-table Sporting Kansas City, 2-1, at home. Uhre’s hat trick powered a 4-2 win over Toronto FC, boosting Philly’s form before facing LAFC in the Concacaf Champions League semifinals. And Rodríguez was splendid in a false-9 role, scoring twice in a 3-1 win over FC Dallas.

Real Salt Lake club-record signing Andrés Gómez had a breakout performance, logging 1g/1a in a 3-1 win over the San Jose Earthquakes. The U22 Initiative winger, signed from Colombia’s Millonarios FC this winter, is looking increasingly comfortable in the league.

A late goal from CF Montréal homegrown midfielder Mathieu Choinière sealed a 2-0 win over the New York Red Bulls, and Seattle Sounders FC midfielder João Paulo did just about everything but score in his team’s 1-0 bounce-back win over Minnesota United FC.

The last two starting XI spots go to FC Cincinnati left wingback Álvaro Barreal and Houston Dynamo FC right back Daniel Steres. Barreal logged his third assist of the year in a 2-1 bounce-back win over the Portland Timbers, and Steres’ near-range volley sealed a 1-0 result vs. Inter Miami CF as the Dynamo became the first team in MLS history to open a season with four consecutive shutout victories at home.

Team of the Matchday (3-4-3, left to right): Roman Bürki (STL) - Álvaro Barreal (CIN), Donovan Pines (DC), Daniel Steres (HOU) - Andrés Gómez (RSL), Mathieu Choiniere (MTL), João Paulo (SEA), Riqui Puig (LA) - Giacomo Vrioni (NE), Mikael Uhre (PHI), Santiago Rodríguez (NYC)

Coach: Wayne Rooney (DC)

Bench: Luis Barraza (NYC), Kai Wagner (PHI), Brooks Lennon (ATL), Bryan Acosta (COL), Jonathan Osorio (TOR), Karol Swiderski (CLT), Sergio Santos (CIN), Christian Benteke (DC), Dénis Bouanga (LAFC)


Audi Goals Drive Progress

MLS Academies have been identified as one of the most important resources for building on-field talent in North America. Through the Audi Goals Drive Progress initiative, Audi has committed $1 million per season in an effort to advance academies league-wide, and to drive progress for the sport. For every goal scored in the regular season, Audi will contribute $200 into the Audi Goals Drive Progress fund to directly support each MLS Club Youth Academy.