Decision Day is nearly here, but first Week 34 twisted the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoff pressure screw even further, with Minnesota United FC and New York City FC among those leading the latest Team of the Week presented by Audi.

mls_soccer_20182021-11-02_08-23-16

Minnesota kept their playoff hopes alive with a 2-1 win over then-Western Conference leaders Sporting Kansas City. Head coach Adrian Heath pulled the right strings and winger Franco Fragapane (one goal) was immense, while midfielder Emanuel Reynoso and defender Bakaye Dibassy placed on the bench.

Meanwhile, NYCFC continued their Eastern Conference resurgence with a 3-1 win at Inter Miami CF. Valentin Castellanos vaulted atop the Golden Boot presented by Audi chart with two goals and one assist, while goalkeeper Sean Johnson made three key saves and midfielder Keaton Parks slotted onto the bench

Aside from Castellanos, the frontline includes LA Galaxy star Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez after his team-leading 15th goal of the year helped along a 1-1 draw with Seattle. And opposite Fragapane’s flank is San Jose Earthquakes homegrown star Cade Cowell, whose one-goal, one-assist performance proved explosive in a 4-3 win at Real Salt Lake.

The other three midfielders are FC Dallas homegrown Jesus Ferreira, Columbus Crew star Lucas Zelarayan and Philadelphia Union dynamo Daniel Gadzag. Ferreira’s stellar year continued with FCD’s first goal in a 2-1 win against Austin FC that sealed Copa Tejas; Zelarayan netted twice in a 3-1 win at D.C. United that kept the defending MLS Cup champions afloat; and Gazdag, the Hungarian international, was all over a 2-0 win against FC Cincinnati aside from his opening goal.

The three-man defense features three center backs: LA Galaxy’s Nick DePuy, Orlando City SC’s Antonio Carlos and New York Red BullsSean Nealis. They all provided lockdown play, with Orlando battling Nashville SC to a 1-1 draw and RBNY eeking out a 1-0 win over CF Montréal.

Team of the Week (3-5-2, left to right): Sean Johnson (NYC) – Nick DePuy (LA), Antonio Carlos (ORL), Sean Nealis (RBNY) – Franco Fragapane (MIN), Jesus Ferreira (DAL), Lucas Zelarayan (CLB), Daniel Gazdag (PHI), Cade Cowell (SJ) – Valentin Castellanos (NYC), Javier Hernandez (LA)

Coach: Adrian Heath (MIN)

Bench: Stefan Frei (SEA), Bakaye Dibassy (MIN), Emanuel Reynoso (MIN), Keaton Parks (NYC), Albert Rusnak (RSL), Hany Mukhtar (NSH), Dom Badji (COL)

mls_soccer_20182021-11-02_08-30-42

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.