Week 27 may have been a short one for MLS – only four games took place with nearly 50 MLSers away on international duty – but there was plenty to like in the games that did take place. Sure, the week's slate of games may not have featured the most attractive soccer MLS has to offer, but we still saw plenty of effective performances and important results to boot.
Colorado lifted themselves out of the Western Conference cellar with a comprehensive win over Portland, Houston won a massive showdown with Real Salt Lake, Seattle kept themselves in the Supporters' Shield race and New England will take heart after shutting down the red-hot Crew. These four strong showings sent 10 players from the winning teams into this week's best XI, joined by one representative from a solid RSL defense.
Who exactly stood above the rest in Week 27? Read on to find out...
GK: Tally Hall (Houston Dynamo) – Not terribly busy until the end of Houston’s 1-0 win over RSL, when he made two huge stops to preserve a vital clean sheet for the Dynamo.
DF: Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo) – Filled in superbly at center back for the Dynamo, nullifying the threat of Fabián Espíndola including a goal-saving tackle in the first half.
DF: Drew Moor (Colorado Rapids) – Not only did he stand tall on defense, he chipped in offensively with two assists in a comfortable 3-0 win over the sloppy Portland Timbers.
DF: Chris Schuler (Real Salt Lake) – Questionable penalty aside (one that Nick Rimando saved anyway), Schuler put in a strong performance in an unfamiliar left back position. Helped keep Houston off the board until they converted a second penalty at the death.
MF: Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution) – Caused Columbus all sorts of problems in the attack with his darting runs and stayed inside on defense to help stymie the Crew’s talented midfield.
MF: Christian Tiffert (Seattle Sounders) – Was effective in directing the Sounders midfield and set up Eddie Johnson’s first goal with a pinpoint delivery into the box.
MF: Jaime Castrillón (Colorado Rapids) – A tireless performance from the Colombian, who set up Tony Cascio for the Rapids’ second and capped a win against Portland with a late close-range header.
MF: Tony Cascio (Colorado Rapids) – A scintillating performance from the rookie, who set up Andre Akpan’s opener and scored the second himself to add to a fine overall game.
FW: Diego Fagundez (New England Revolution) – The 17-year-old was a thorn in the Crew’s side for nearly all of his 73 minutes on the field. Set up Dimitry Imbongo’s opener with a fine effort off a Revs throw-in.
FW: Dimitry Imbongo (New England Revolution) – Provided exactly what the Revolution needed with a physical, energetic showing that gave the Crew defense fits all game and was reflected with his winning goal and pressure on Chad Marshall to help force the second.
FW: Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders) – Came up huge for the Sounders, netting a pair of goals to take his season total to 13. His 89th-minute tally gave his side a crucial 2-1 over Chivas USA that kept them in the Supporters’ Shield race.
Coach: Oscar Pareja (Colorado Rapids) – Came with a great game plan after a disheartening loss in Portland. This time, the Rapids ruthlessly exploited Portland’s weak points, namely former Colorado defender Kosuke Kimura.
Honorable Mention: Andre Akpan (Colorado Rapids), Yordany Álvarez (Real Salt Lake), Miller Bolaños (Chivas USA), Bobby Boswell (Houston Dynamo), Alex Caskey (Seattle Sounders), Fabián Espíndola (Real Salt Lake), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders), Andy Gruenebaum (Columbus Crew), Ryan Guy (New England Revolution), Stephen McCarthy (New England Revolution), Fredy Montero (Seattle Sounders), Matt Reis (New England Revolution), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake), Jonny Steele (Real Salt Lake)