In a weekend of standout goalkeeper performances, the competition was fierce for the No. 1 goalkeeper spot on this edition of the MLSsoccer.com Team of the Week. Toronto FC’s Milos Kocic was the ultimate selection, beating out D.C. United’s Joe Willis and FC Dallas veteran Kevin Hartman.
CONCACAF nations were heavily represented in this week’s best XI, which includes a former US national-team member, a current one and a forward that perhaps hopes to make a return.
GK: Milos Kocic (Toronto FC) – Making his first start of the season, Kocic made four key stops to preserve the shutout against Real Salt Lake, none more spectacular than his stoppage-time save on Will Johnson’s flying volley.
DF: Julius James (Columbus Crew) – Solid performance by the Trinidadian center back, who is turning into the find of the season for Robert Warzycha. Scored the go-ahead goal against New England to boot.
DF: Heath Pearce (Chivas USA) – Although there was some good fortune involved, Chivas USA’s road shutout of the Seattle Sounders was also a result of solid defending and good organization, led by the US national-teamer.
DF: Tyrone Marshall (Colorado Rapids) – Even though the task was made easier when the Earthquakes were down to 10 men, the 36-year-old Jamaican still registered a fine performance explained by these numbers: a team-high eight recoveries and five clearances.
MF: Chris Pontius (D.C. United) – It was not even his most illuminated performance of the season, but his career-high goal total has now reached seven after a brace against Vancouver earned him Player of the Week honors.
MF: Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado Rapids) – The Rapids captain was all over the field and in the middle of the two plays that turned the match at San Jose. His cross led to the penalty kick awarded to Colorado and a foul he suffered caused the Quakes to be reduced to 10 men.
MF: Osvaldo Alonso (Seattle Sounders) – Another inspired performance by the Cuban central midfielder, who was omnipresent in dominating the match against Chivas USA on both sides of the ball.
MF: Dane Richards (New York Red Bulls) – New York will be encouraged that they have their right winger back. Although there was good and bad from the Jamaican against Chicago, he was the Red Bulls’ most dangerous player, creating havoc every time he touched the ball.
FW: Maicon Santos (FC Dallas) – For a team that has made do with wingers playing as converted forwards, the Brazilian striker seems like a godsend, fitting right in with FC Dallas, the best team he’s played on while in MLS. He provides mobility, passing ability, quick decisions, good technique and even some speed, all qualities which were on display in Philadelphia.
FW: Dwayne De Rosario (D.C. United) – Now with his third club of 2011, the Canadian international has finally found his groove. After two straight Player of the Week performances, two more assists against Vancouver extended his positive run of form.
FW: Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo) – In addition scoring the eventual game-winner against Portland, Ching did an exceptional job at holding the ball up and getting his teammates involved. Another star who may be hitting stride just in time after battling injuries earlier this year.
Manager: Aron Winter (Toronto FC) – The switch from a 4-3-3 to a 3-4-3 against Real Salt Lake was daring whether it worked or not. After a season of professing his dedication to the Dutch 4-3-3 system, the first-year manager was open to changing tactics and moving his most valuable player, Torsten Frings, to the back line from the opening minute. The win against Real Salt Lake was arguably TFC’s best result of the season and keeps their playoff hopes alive.
Honorable Mentions: Justin Braun (Chivas USA), Dilly Duka (Columbus Crew), Richard Eckersley (Toronto FC), Benny Feilhaber (New England Revolution), Kevin Hartman (FC Dallas), Sebastién Le Toux (Philadelphia Union), Joel Lindpere (New York Red Bulls), Brandon McDonald (D.C. United), Brian Mullan (Colorado Rapids), Andy Najar (D.C. United), Joao Plata (Toronto FC), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew), Mauro Rosales (Seattle Sounders), A.J. Soares (New England Revolution), Joe Willis (D.C. United), Daniel Woolard (D.C. United)