Week 25 of MLS play provided us with plenty of goal-filled proceedings as teams gunned it out for playoff berths and players made plays for individual honors.
Perhaps one of the most intriguing races this year outside the playoff battle is the Golden Boot race, with a number of forwards forcing themselves into the conversation. Though co-leaders Mike Magee and Camilo did not find the net, two veteran strikers renewed their push – one with a pair of goals to draw within one of the lead and the other with a hat trick to well and truly get his push going.
Aside from the Golden Boot race, another striker solidified his push for Rookie of the Year honors with his seventh goal of the season, good enough to earn him an honorable mention. Further back, three defenders and a goalkeeper were instrumental as three of their four respective teams kept clean sheets, while the other netted a goal.
Which players made their cases for individual awards in Week 25? Read on to find out...
GK: Clint Irwin (Colorado Rapids) – Made three key saves to stop the in-form Whitecaps in the two teams' Western Conference showdown on Saturday night, which Colorado won 2-0, adding another line to an increasingly impressive resume.
DF: Steven Beitashour (San Jose Earthquakes) – Played a big part in limiting Sporting KC's ability to create from out wide and volleyed a deflected pass for the only assist of the game as San Jose eked out a vital 1-0 win over their Eastern Conference visitors.
DF: Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy) – The Galaxy's newest DP celebrated his new contract with a typically imposing performance on the backline for LA and netted on a set piece to score the Galaxy's only non-Robbie Keane goal in their 4-2 win over Real Salt Lake.
DF: Amobi Okugo (Philadelphia Union) – Philadelphia's 0-0 draw at Red Bull Arena wasn't much to look at, but Okugo nonetheless distinguished himself with strong positioning and a consistent ability to put off New York's forwards.
MF: Federico Higuaín (Columbus Crew) – The little magician's done it again. Another week, another brilliant chipped goal and another brace for the Crew's Argentine DP, who seems to be single-handedly keeping his team from falling completely out of the playoff picture.
MF: Juninho (LA Galaxy) – The Galaxy ran roughshod over the RSL midfield in their Saturday night win, in large part thanks to the tenacious play of Juninho, who also picked up a pair of assists in the victory.
MF: Felipe (Montreal Impact) – Showed well in Montreal's 2-1 win against D.C. United, working hard and displaying his trademark creativity. His fantastic dummy to set up Marco Di Vaio's goal won't show up as an assist, but it was one of the offensive plays of the game.
FW: Giles Barnes (Houston Dynamo) – Clint Dempsey may be making the headlines, but Barnes stole the show as Houston topped visiting Seattle, 3-1. The English forward netted two well-struck goals, including a highlight-reel second goal.
FW: Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy) – Netted a hat trick against the league leaders while showing off a great range of finishing skills. What more is there to say?
FW: Marco Di Vaio (Montreal Impact) – The Italian's superlative finishing skills were on display once again this weekend, as he netted a brace to lift the Impact over D.C. United and make up ground in the Golden Boot race.
Coach: Bruce Arena (LA Galaxy) – Sure, the Galaxy have one of the most loaded rosters in MLS, but watching LA put four past RSL a week after hitting three at Dallas really starts to make you think that Arena once again has the Galaxy clicking on all cylinders. Watch out.
Bench: Matt Reis (New England Revolution), Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Dax McCarty (New York Red Bulls), Justin Mapp (Montreal Impact), Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution), Will Bruin (Houston Dynamo), Deshorn Brown (Colorado Rapids)