Brek Shea (FC Dallas), Osvaldo Alonso (Seattle Sounders) and Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy) continued to make their case for league MVP honors and added another feather in their cap with their election to the Team of the Week for Week 31. For Gonzalez alone, that makes for seven Best XI mentions this year alone, the most for any MLS defender this year.
In addition to MVP candidates, this week's team highlights three of the league's top scorers. Reigning Golden Boot champion Chris Wondolowski is on a late-season tear and Andrés Mendoza is just two goals behind in the race after his brace against the New England Revolution. Camilo Sanvezzo is only three off the pace.
And in a nod to the veterans, Kasey Keller and John Thorrington also made the cut, with the Vancouver midfielder earning his first mention of 2011 after an injury-riddled season.
GK: Kasey Keller (Seattle Sounders) – It doesn’t always work out that the player being feted on a particular day also turns up with a big performance. Keller made several key saves against San Jose to give his team a chance to pull out the win.
DF: Gonzalo Segares (Chicago Fire) – If the Chicago Fire never stopped believing at RFK, they owe it to Segares, who kept running hard late in the game to cap off a strong showing with two assists. It made up for a rough outing vs. FC Dallas in midweek.
DF: Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy) – Did not put a wrong foot once again against Chivas USA. The clamor for his inclusion on the USMNT will surely continue in November, when he’s busy leading the Galaxy’s postseason charge.
DF: Geoff Cameron (Houston Dynamo) – The Dynamo of the past always found a way to give up a goal. Cameron’s ability to recover has reduced those instances to help Dynamo ride two shutout wins on the road to the postseason.
MF: Osvaldo Alonso (Seattle Sounders) – The least talked-about MVP candidate continues to fly under the mainstream radar. Never stopped against San Jose.
MF: Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City) – Sporting’s playmaker was doing just that all over the field against NY: making plays. Another standout performance. A national team call-up is just a matter of time.
MF: John Thorrington (Vancouver Whitecaps) – If the Whitecaps have figured out how to win, Thorrington is a major reason why. He sets the tempo for a team that was sorely seeking an on-field leader.
MF: Brek Shea (FC Dallas) – He helped FC Dallas hold on to a win in Chicago after playing with the USA the previous night and then registered a goal and assist vs. Vancouver. His MVP campaign is back on track.
FW: Andrés Mendoza (Columbus Crew) – With 13 goals – including two against New England – and a playoff berth, the Cunningham PK incident is long forgotten.
FW: Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes) – Another scorching run to close out the season for Wondo. Two goals for a win in New England and another in front of 64,000 in Seattle. He could have had more. Another Golden Boot is close.
FW: Camilo Sanvezzo (Vancouver Whitecaps) – Scored goals in two victories and was the most dangerous player for his team in the third at FC Dallas. He has gone from a nobody to one of the Whitecaps’ expansion season stars.
Manager: Dominic Kinnear (Houston Dynamo) – Although it won’t go down as one of the spectacular wins in club history, the 2-0 win in Portland turned out to be a playoff clincher. It’s been a long, difficult season for Kinnear’s group between injuries, player changeover and poor road form. But you would have never guessed it after the victory at JELD-WEN.
Honorable Mentions: Eric Avila (Toronto FC), Jair Benítez (FC Dallas), Marvin Chávez (FC Dallas), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Dilly Duka (Columbus Crew), Todd Dunivant (LA Galaxy), Jackson Gonçalves (FC Dallas), Sebastián Grazzini (Chicago Fire), Tally Hall (Houston Dynamo), Julius James (Columbus Crew), Milos Kocic (Toronto FC), Sébastien Le Toux (Philadelphia Union), Josip Mikulic (Chicago Fire), Sanna Nyassi (Colorado Rapids), Jámison Olave (Real Salt Lake), Tyson Wahl (Seattle Sounders)