Team of the Week (Wk 26): Big offense, tight defense highlight selection
Week 26 offered some interesting contrasts, with a number of blowout wins and goalfests on the one hand, and a few tightly contested clashes on the other.
This week's selection shook out accordingly with the three defenders and goalkeeper honored all doing their parts to preserve a pair of 1-0 wins for their respective teams. Further forward, on the other hand, plenty of midfielders and forwards got in the attacking act, recording 10 goals and three assists among the seven players honrored.
Who did their bit to guide their team to a crucial result in Week 26? Read on to find out...
GK: Jaime Penedo (LA Galaxy) – Made his case to stay as the go-to guy in goal for LA with a spectacular save on Jordan Harvey to preserve LA's 1-0 win in Vancouver, plus a number of other clean grabs and strong command of his area.
DF: Jalil Anibaba (Chicago Fire) – Put in a rock-solid shift at right back in Chicago's 1-0 win over Sporting Kansas City and played a key role in the only goal of the game with a drilled cross to the back post.
DF: Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy) – Continued his fine run of form anchoring LA's backline, putting out fires all over the place and showcasing his usual aerial dominance to guide the team to a road shutout.
DF: Hunter Jumper (Chicago Fire) – Got the lone goal in Chicago's win over Sporting and complemented that with a strong showing on the backline that stymied KC at nearly every turn.
MF: Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers) – Showed his class once more over the course of two games. Was at the center of nearly everything Portland did offensively in their 3-3 draw against Real Salt Lake, coming away with a goal and an assist. Unsurprisingly was one of the most influential players in the Timbers' 1-0 loss to Seattle on Sunday, and was denied a beautiful goal only by the woodwork.
MF: Kelyn Rowe (New England Revolution) – A night when the Revolution showcased all their young attacking talent, Rowe's flame burned brightest. The midfielder netted a pair of strikes from distance as the Revs crushed Philadephia, 5-1. His second goal will be seen on more than a few highlight reels.
MF: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake) –You don't often see his name on the scoresheet, let alone twice in one game, but that's exactly what happened as RSL picked apart Columbus to the tune of a 4-0 scoreline. His influence was also clearly missed in RSL's midweek draw with Portland (he was suspended) when Valeri picked apart the Timbers' midfield for significant stretches of the game.
MF: Justin Mapp (Montreal Impact) – Took full advantage of the space Houston afforded him in Montreal's 5-0 thumping of the Dynamo, setting up the first two goals of the game in a quick first half one-two punch.
FW: Erick Torres (Chivas USA) – Continued to impress in his quick transition to MLS with a pair of goals – his third and fourth in six games – in the Goats' Sunday afternoon win, 3-2 over the New York Red Bulls.
FW: Marco Di Vaio (Montreal Impact) – Who cares how many times he's called offside when he can find the net when it counts? Did so twice in Saturday's win over the Dynamo in addition to helping open plenty of space for his teammates to stage their attacking outburst.
FW: Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy) – Hit an absolute laser to hand LA a lead over Vancouver that they would not relinquish and was one of the Galaxy's most frequent threats for another goal. And that may just be the second-biggest piece of news concerning the Galaxy DP this week...
Coach: Jay Heaps (New England Revolution) – The youth movement in New England continues to reap dividends. Heaps' trust in his young players paid off big time in their rout of Philadelphia, and he and the team did very well to press the tactical advantage that an injury to the Union's Keon Daniel afforded them.
Bench: Dan Kennedy (Chivas USA), Jose Gonçalves (New England Revolution), Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Felipe Martins (Montreal Impact), Diego Fagundez (New England Revolution), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders), Blas Pérez (FC Dallas)