The Colorado Rapids and Real Salt Lake proved the doubters wrong in Week 35, and now they lead the 2021 regular season’s final Team of the Week presented by Audi as the Decision Day dust settles.
Colorado walloped LAFC 5-2 to claim the Western Conference’s No. 1 seed in the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs, seizing a 2022 Concacaf Champions League spot and Round One bye along the way. They surpassed Seattle Sounders FC and Sporting Kansas City with that result, only strengthening head coach Robin Fraser’s case for the Sigi Schmid Coach of the Year Award.
As for star showings, forward Jonathan Lewis scored twice and midfielder Kellyn Acosta had an assist to punctuate his comprehensive performance.
On the RSL front, they snatched a dramatic 1-0 result at Sporting KC behind Damir Kreilach's 95th-minute game-winner. Fullback Andrew Brody also impressed on both sides of the ball, contributing to the all-important shutout that gave RSL the West's No. 7 spot.
Another Decision Day headline came via Vancouver Whitecaps FC, who capped their major turnaround with two Week 35 draws that ultimately gave them the Western Conference’s No. 6 seed. Midfielder Ryan Gauld supplied 1g/1a across that span, while goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau made a combined 15 saves to push them over the line.
Plaudits also go to D.C. United, who narrowly missed out on an Eastern Conference playoff spot despite a 3-1 win at Toronto FC. Striker Ola Kamara scored twice to mount a Golden Boot presented by Audi charge (bench spot), while wingback Julian Gressel capped his phenomenal season with two assists.
The third forward is LA Galaxy star Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, whose two-goal showing sealed a 3-3 draw with Minnesota United FC that nearly booked them a West playoff spot. It was enough until RSL's late victory, stalling a 17g/3a campaign from Chicharito.
Aside from Brody, the other defenders are Atlanta United center back Miles Robinson and Columbus Crew right back Steven Moreira. Robinson scored in a 2-1 win at FC Cincinnati that clinched ATLUTD’s playoff spot, while Moreira proved every bit of a shrewd late-season free agency acquisition in a 2-0 win over Chicago Fire FC.
Last but certainly not least, Portland Timbers midfielder Sebastian Blanco had three goals and one assist across two big wins that sent his team cruising as the Western Conference’s No. 4 seed. Last year’s ACL tear seems firmly in the rearview.
Team of the Week (3-4-3, left to right): Maxime Crepeau (VAN) – Andrew Brody (RSL), Miles Robinson (ATL), Steven Moreira (CLB) – Kellyn Acosta (COL), Sebastian Blanco (POR), Ryan Gauld (VAN), Julian Gressel (DC) – Damir Kreilach (RSL), Chicharito (LA), Jonathan Lewis (COL)
Coach: Robin Fraser (COL)
Bench: Pedro Gallese (ORL), Leandro Gonzalez Pirez (MIA), Robin Lod (MIN), Jared Stroud (ATX), Daryl Dike (ORL), Valentin Castellanos (NYC), Ola Kamara (DC)
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.