Atlanta United emerged from their 12-game winless streak, the Portland Timbers got a much-needed victory and the San Jose Earthquakes stayed in solid form, helping all three clubs headline the Week 18 Team of the Week presented by Audi.
Atlanta handed the Columbus Crew their second straight defeat at Lower.com Field, with midfielder Ezequiel Barco scoring twice in the 3-2 win. Rob Valentino notched his first victory in the process, resulting in the interim head coach leading the 3-4-3 formation.
Portland held on for a 3-2 win versus Real Salt Lake at Providence Park, with forward Dairon Asprilla continuing his career-best season with one goal and one assist. Aljaz Ivacic, filling in for injured goalkeeper Steve Clark, made seven stops in a match that had big Western Conference playoff implications.
San Jose swept aside LAFC 2-1 at PayPal Park, with winger Cristian Espinoza assisting on both first-half goals. Center back Nathan nodded home his second MLS goal, plus provided lockdown defense to keep the Black & Gold relatively quiet.
Beyond Barco, Chicago Fire FC midfielder Luka Stojanovic had two goals in a 2-1 win over the New York Red Bulls. Alejandro Pozuelo channeled his 2020 Landon Donovan MLS MVP form, supplying one goal and one assist in a 2-2 comeback draw with New York City FC. Rounding out the midfield group, Inter Miami CF’s Blaise Matuidi chipped in an assist and had a strong all-around presence in a 2-1 win over Nashville SC.
FC Dallas winger Szabolcs Schon was another highlight, dishing out two assists during a 2-0 win against Austin FC in a budding Copa Tejas rivalry match. Then D.C. United homegrown Andy Najar continued his resurgence in a 2-1 dispatch of CF Montréal, scoring and proving to be one of MLS’ most intriguing defenders.
Last but not least, New England Revolution left back DeJuan Jones was all-around solid in a 2-1 home win over the Philadelphia Union. Jones was active on both sides, helping the Revs move 10 points clear in the Eastern Conference and boost their Supporters’ Shield lead.
Team of the Week (3-4-3, left to right): Aljaz Ivacic (POR) – DeJuan Jones (NE), Nathan (SJ), Andy Najar (DC) – Ezequiel Barco (ATL), Alejandro Pozuelo (TOR), Blaise Matuidi (MIA), Luka Stojanovic (CHI) – Szabolcs Schon (DAL), Dairon Asprilla (POR), Cristian Espinoza (SJ)
Coach: Rob Valentino (ATL)
Bench: Matt Turner (NE), Brent Kallman (MIN), Ryan Hollingshead (DAL), Emanuel Reynoso (MIN), Mark-Anthony Kaye (COL), Valentin Castellanos (NYC), Nani (ORL)
The Team of the Week presented by Audi is voted on by the MLSsoccer.com editorial staff.
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 $500 into the Audi Goals Drive Progress fund to directly support each MLS Club Youth Academy.