Team of the Week (Wk 17): Portland Timbers, Chicago Fire score big after double duty
It's not easy picking a Best XI when midweek action means there are 12 games featuring plenty of strong performances to choose from, but it sure helps when teams secure a pair of big results in that half-a-week span.
The two teams that benefitted the most from their Week 17 double duty were the Chicago Fire, who secured six points, and the Portland Timbers, who picked up a valuable scoreless draw in LA before thumping Colorado to go top of the Western Conference alongside Real Salt Lake.
As a result, both teams are honored heavily in this week's Team of the Week, along with Real Salt Lake, who only played one game, but made a big statement in that game by dominating the Seattle Sounders.
Who else made the cut in this week's Team of the Week? Read on to find out...
SAVE: Ricketts stops Clark's poke
GK: Donovan Ricketts (Portland Timbers) – On a week short of spectacular goalkeeping performances, Ricketts gets the nod for helping the Timbers to two straight shutouts. Likely secured a point against the Galaxy in midweek action with an excellent stop on Colin Clark.
DF: Zach Loyd (FC Dallas) – Phenomenal in Dallas' wild comeback draw against Sporting Kansas City. Strong on defense and effective going forward, helping set up a number of chances as his team managed to claw back from a two-goal deficit.
DF: Steven Caldwell (Toronto FC) – Led the Reds to a hard-earned point and clean sheet in the notoriously difficult BBVA Compass Stadium, making a key clearance to cap off another excellent defense showing for the veteran Scotsman.
DF: Nat Borchers (Real Salt Lake) – Along with surprising youngster Carlos Salcedo, made the Seattle Sounders strike duo of Eddie Johnson and Obafemi Martins non-factors in the Claret-and-Cobalt's impressive 2-0 win on Saturday.
GOAL: Johnson nets a stunner
MF: Will Johnson (Portland Timbers) – Showed once again why he deserves to be considered among the best midfielders in MLS this season. Ran the show in Portland's 3-0 win over Colorado; tore up and down the field for the full game, set up one goal and scored as good a goal as any we've seen from the Timbers this season.
MF: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake) – Nearly unbeatable in the center of the park in RSL's win over the Sounders. Moved the ball well, played airtight defense in front of the backline and scored a superb goal to round off a memorable evening.
MF: Rodney Wallace (Portland Timbers) – Continued his 2013 renaissance by picking up assists on each of the three goals the Timbers scored against Colorado. He's not doing anything too fancy, but has shown himself to be a perfect player for Caleb Porter's system.
FW: Camilo (Vancouver Whitecaps) – The little Brazilian made himself plenty big in Wednesday night's 3-1 victory over Chivas USA, scoring twice and adding an assist to bring home Player of the Week honors.
GOAL: Casey's towering header
FW: Conor Casey (Philadelphia Union) – Jack McInerney hasn't found the net in his past two appearances, but that's OK for the Union, since Conor Casey has picked up the slack in his stead. The veteran forward netted twice in Sunday's 3-0 win over the New York Red Bulls and with three goals in his last two appearances has started to look more and more like his old self.
FW: Mike Magee (Chicago Fire) – Continued his scoring tear for the Fire, with a goal in each of the team's wins this week taking him to six goals in six appearances across all competitions. Frank Klopas & Co. have almost certainly found one of the big missing pieces in the attack.
Coach: Frank Klopas (Chicago Fire) – Two games, two wins. Looks to have finally found a balance in attack and midfield (thanks, Mike!) and if the win in Columbus is any indication, may be starting to get the best out of Duka. Don't sleep on the Fire, especially if they can add a target man along the lines of Carlton Cole in the summer transfer window.
Bench: Joe Bendik (Toronto FC), Aurelien Collin (Sporting Kansas City), Andrew Jean-Baptiste (Portland Timbers), Joel Lindpere (Chicago Fire), Sebastien Le Toux (Philadelphia Union), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy), Marco Di Vaio (Montreal Impact)