The start of summer has seen an upheaval in the MLS coaching ranks, with John Spencer's dismissal in Portland making for three coaches that have left the clubs they started 2012 with. While it will take a while to reach a verdict on the Timbers' coaching change and Toronto's results under Paul Mariner have been better, if inconsistent, there is no question that the appointment of John Hackworth as interim head coach of the Philadelphia Union has worked wonders.
The latest evidence comes from the Union's six-point haul in Week 18, which saw a gritty win punctuated by cool finishing against the LA Galaxy, followed up by a dominating 3-0 win against Toronto. For those performances, the Union snagged three places in the team of the week, with Hackworth's refreshing approach earning him the honors as the week's top coach.
However, the Union were not the only team to shine in Week 18. Real Salt Lake and Seattle both snapped out of their funks after drawing each other 0-0 in midweek, earning them a combined three places, while the New England Revolution boosted their playoff credentials by comfortably handling the New York Red Bulls, earning them two places in this week's selection.
GK: Joe Cannon (Vancouver Whitecaps) – Kept two clean sheets over the week and made some outstanding saves in a win at Colorado and a draw at Chivas USA to secure four valuable points on the road against conference opponents.
DF: Kevin Alston (New England Revolution) – A solid all-around performance from the speedy right back, who kept the ball well and marshaled New York’s left-sided threat well.
DF: Hernán Pertúz (FC Dallas) – Turned in a man-of-the-match performance in Dallas’ 0-0 draw with San Jose, keeping the Quakes off the scoreboard with two goal-line clearances and a strong defensive effort.
DF: Jermaine Taylor (Houston Dynamo) – A dominating display from the Jamaican, who went blow for blow with C.J. Sapong and showed great movement and positioning in keeping a clean sheet against Sporting Kansas City.
DF: Chris Wingert (Real Salt Lake) – Playing at right back on Wednesday and left back on Saturday, excelled equally well on both flanks and chipped in an assist in RSL’s 3-0 romp over Portland.
MF: Mauro Rosales (Seattle Sounders) – A touchstone performance for the Argentine, who keyed Seattle’s special win over Colorado with assists on both goals.
MF: Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution) – A comprehensive performance from one of 2012’s breakout stars. Scored a fine goal, created chances and even tracked back well.
MF: Michael Farfan (Philadelphia Union) – Involved in four of five goals that Philadelphia scored on the way to a huge six-point haul, the 24-year-old dazzled with his skills creating from the midfield.
MF: Freddy Adu (Philadelphia Union) – Another key component in the Union’s fine run, Adu was on fire in their 3-0 win over Toronto. Was everywhere to be found in the offensive third and got himself on the scoresheet.
FW: Jack McInerney (Philadelphia Union) – One of the biggest beneficiaries of the coaching change in Philadelphia has to be the US youth international, who has thrived since John Hackworth took over. This time around he showed great instincts to flick home a goal against LA, then turned creator with two assists in the win over Toronto.
FW: Álvaro Saborío (Real Salt Lake) – Week 18’s Player of the Week followed up a strong, if goalless, performance against Seattle with a spectacular three goals in 15 minutes to lead RSL to a comfortable win over Portland that saw the team return to form.
Coach: John Hackworth (Philadelphia Union) – So far, it appears Hackworth’s appointment in Philadelphia has worked wonders – from the gritty performance in a win over LA to the team’s dominance against Toronto, it is clear the players are responding well to his coaching.
Honorable Mention: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Steven Beitashour (San Jose Earthquakes), Patrice Bernier (Montreal Impact), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Marvin Chávez (San Jose Earthquakes), Aurélien Collin (Sporting Kansas City), Roger Espinoza (Sporting Kansas City), Gabriel Farfan (Philadelphia Union), Álvaro Fernández (Seattle Sounders), Antoine Hoppenot (Philadelphia Union), Andrew Jacobson (FC Dallas), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders), Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy), Zac MacMath (Philadelphia Union), Chad Marshall (Columbus Crew), Darren Mattocks (Vancouver Whitecaps), Dax McCarty (New York Red Bulls), Javier Morales (Real Salt Lake) Andy Rose (Seattle Sounders), Franck Songo'o (Portland Timbers), Zarek Valentin (Montreal Impact), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City), Josh Williams (Columbus Crew)