The top seven teams in the Supporters’ Shield race ran rampant during Week 19, leaving their collective mark all over the Team of Week presented by Audi.
Eastern Conference leaders and Shield front-runners New England have Tajon Buchanan in the midfield group. The Canadian international scored a stunning header in a 2-1 win at Toronto FC that marked a homecoming of sorts for the up-and-coming talent.
Sporting Kansas City returned to winning ways, staying atop the Western Conference standings following a 2-0 win at previously red-hot FC Dallas. Center back Andreu Fontas anchors the backline as a result, and forward Alan Pulido earned a spot on the bench for tallying alongside Daniel Salloi.
But the real winners may be the Seattle Sounders, who engineered a stunning 6-2 defeat of Cascadia rivals Portland. That placed Raul Ruidiaz in the starting XI and Brian Schmetzer as the coach, while Fredy Montero is in reserve. The forwards each bagged a brace, while Ruidiaz's 13 goals pace the Golden Boot presented by Audi race.
The LA Galaxy showed impressive depth in a 1-0 win at Minnesota United FC, with goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsmann marking his first appearance of the 2021 season with a seven-save shutout. Postgame, Klinsmann said the opportunity meant “everything” to him.
New York City FC stayed rolling in their 2-0 home win over Inter Miami CF, where forward Valentin Castellanos scored twice and was hailed as “top class.” Center back James Sands appeared as well, with the US men’s national team player limiting Miami forward Gonzalo Higuain.
Rounding out the top seven Shield sides, Nashville SC’s representative is forward CJ Sapong after he scored twice in a 5-2 rout of D.C. United. The Colorado Rapids stayed in fine form with a 3-1 win at Houston Dynamo FC, in which homegrown midfielder Cole Bassett boosted his stock with his second assist of the year.
The most pressure-packed moment belongs to CF Montréal midfielder Victor Wanyama, who punched home a 98th-minute penalty kick to sink the New York Red Bulls in a dramatic 2-1 win. Wanyama’s game-winner was CFM’s third PK attempt in the same sequence, after goalkeeper Carlos Coronel was deemed to have come off his line early on the prior two following Video Review.
Team of the Week (3-4-3, left to right): Jonathan Klinsmann (LA) – Francisco Calvo (CHI), Andreu Fontas (SKC), James Sands (NYC) – Cole Bassett (COL), Ezequiel Barco (ATL), Victor Wanyama (MTL), Tajon Buchanan (NE) – Valentin Castellanos (NYC), CJ Sapong (NSH), Raul Ruidiaz (SEA)
Coach: Brian Schmetzer (SEA)
Bench: William Yarbrough (COL), Mamadou Fall (LAFC), Luka Stojanovic (CHI), Albert Rusnak (RSL), Alex Muyl (NSH), Fredy Montero (SEA), Alan Pulido (SKC)
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.